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Angels assess options to replace Kendry Morales

The first baseman fractured his lower left leg in a freak accident during a home-plate celebration. The Angels could look within the organization or explore adding a player via trade or free agency.

May 30, 2010|By Ben Bolch

Who's on first?

For the Angels, it could be a lot of different people in the coming weeks.

Mike Napoli manned first base Sunday in the first game since Kendry Morales fractured his lower left leg in a freak accident during a home-plate celebration. Other alternatives on the current roster include Robb Quinlan, Michael Ryan and Howie Kendrick.

General Manager Tony Reagins said the Angels would assess their options within the organization in the short term while also exploring the possibility of adding a player via trade or free agency.

"There are options out there, both internally and externally, and we'll take a look at each of them," Reagins said. "It's my job to go out and pursue every opportunity that's out there that could potentially help us."

Among the first basemen the Angels could pursue are the Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko and Houston's Lance Berkman, a pair of 34-year-olds who are in the final years of their contracts and play for teams that have fallen out of contention in their respective divisions. Berkman, who is batting .235 with five home runs and 15 runs batted in, has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to be dealt to a contender.

Konerko, who is hitting .256 with 14 homers and 33 RBIs, already has strong ties to Angels Manager Mike Scioscia that originated when they were members of the Dodgers' organization. The Angels unsuccessfully tried to sign Konerko before the 2006 season.

Reagins acknowledged that trying to acquire a player when other teams know the Angels are desperate to replace the production of an All-Star-caliber slugger "can be a challenge," but not one that was incapable of being overcome. Morales was hitting .290 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs — all team highs — at the time of his injury.

Other possible trade targets include Washington's Adam Dunn, Cleveland's Russell Branyan, Arizona's Adam LaRoche and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder. The Angels could also reach a deal with an unsigned free agent such as Jermaine Dye, an outfielder who has occasionally played first base, or Carlos Delgado, who hopes to return next month from a torn labrum in his hip.

Ryan Garko, who is at triple-A Oklahoma City after being designated for assignment by Texas, is another possibility.

The Angels appear reluctant to promote first base prospect Mark Trumbo, who is hitting .275 with a Pacific Coast League-leading 11 homers and 40 RBIs for triple-A Salt Lake. Reagins said Trumbo "does need some more seasoning at triple A" before coming to the major leagues.

Quinlan, who was recalled from Salt Lake to take Morales' roster spot, is the Angels' most natural first baseman, Scioscia said, but the hot-hitting Napoli will likely play there when he's not catching to keep his bat in the lineup.

The Angels could make Napoli their regular first baseman once catcher Jeff Mathis returns from a broken wrist in a couple of weeks, but Scioscia said using Napoli for an extended stretch at first before then would require the team to bring up a third catcher.

Reining them in

Scioscia met with his players before Sunday's game and established rules for walk-off victory celebrations in the wake of Morales' injury.

"We need to have some guidelines that will prevent some of the things we saw yesterday from happening again," Scioscia said. "The way we lost Kendry, it's just sickening."

Short hops

Torii Hunter, who was hit on the left wrist by a Felix Hernandez fastball on Saturday, did not play Sunday but is expected to return as soon as Monday, Scioscia said.... Mathis is scheduled to begin taking batting practice Tuesday in Kansas City and could start a minor league rehabilitation assignment by next weekend.... Brandon Wood, on the disabled list with a strained hip flexor, will start a rehabilitation assignment Monday with Salt Lake.

Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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