Angels first baseman Kendry Morales is recovering from a broken left leg… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )
Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Kendry Morales "has made great strides on defense and in the batter's box," but the Angels first baseman has not run at anything close to full speed yet, casting some doubt on whether he'll be ready by the March 31 season opener.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound switch-hitter's swing is coming back. Morales rocketed numerous balls high over the right-field wall in batting practice Friday, as the Angels worked out in preparation for Saturday's Cactus League opener against the Dodgers.
Morales, recovering from a broken left leg suffered when he jumped into home plate after a game-winning home run last May 29, has also increased the intensity and duration of his defensive work.
But most of the slugger's running has been limited to a treadmill equipped with a harness designed to take body weight off his legs. Scioscia said Morales is running on "about 60-70%" of his weight.
Morales appears to be at least 10 days away from playing in an exhibition game, and he most likely will start at designated hitter.
He might also be relegated to designated hitter to start the regular season, which would take the bat of projected designated hitter and No. 2 hitter Bobby Abreu out of the lineup and open up more playing time at first base for Brandon Wood or Mark Trumbo.
"When he eventually gets to running on 100% of his body weight, it will be on the field," Scioscia said of Morales. "What the timetable is for that to happen remains to be seen.
"But again, we have a long way to opening day, and I don't think he'll need 80-90 at-bats to get ready, because he is swinging a bat. We can fold in the defensive end as he's comfortable with it."
Morales hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in in 2009, and the Angels are relying heavily on his bat to bolster an offense that struggled for much of 2010.
Though Morales doesn't play an extremely demanding position, spending nine innings in the field could put considerable stress on his lower left leg. So, the Angels are being cautious with him this spring.
"He has some work to do as far as running, but there's enough time to get through this process and have him ready for the season," Scioscia said. "We're very comfortable with him being with us on opening day."
Wood, slowed early in camp by a lower-back injury, has been taking batting practice for two days and is participating in fielding drills. He has not been cleared to run the bases yet and probably won't play in an exhibition game until later next week.