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Kendrys Morales is set back by a new injury, will open season on the DL

The slugging first baseman is experiencing soreness in the ball of his left foot, which isn't directly related to the broken lower left leg he suffered last May but is slowing his rehabilitation from it. His projected return is pushed back even further.

March 22, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales, who missed a large portion of last season with a broken leg, will start the 2011 season on the disabled list.
Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales, who missed a large portion of last… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — The return of Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales, already clouded by his slower-than-anticipated recovery from a broken lower left leg, has been pushed back even further.

Morales has soreness in the ball of his left foot, an injury that is not directly related to his surgery to repair the broken leg but has slowed his rehabilitation from it.

Morales returned to Los Angeles on Monday to be examined by Dr. Phil Kwong, a foot and ankle specialist. An MRI test revealed no structural damage in the foot, but there is too much inflammation for Morales to resume his running program.

"He's still working through some flexibility issues with his ankle and foot, and until those are resolved he can't move forward," General Manager Tony Reagins said. "He's day to day right now."

Angels' Maicer Izturis hopes to go the distance

The Angels expected Morales, who broke his leg while jumping on home plate after a game-winning home run last May 29, to be a "full go" for the start of spring training.

He has been a no-go. The switch-hitting slugger, who in 2009 hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in, has not played in an exhibition game this spring and will open the season on the disabled list.

He began running from home to first on March 15, but the pain in his foot, which may have been caused by ill-fitting spikes, prevented him from rounding the bases aggressively.

"Obviously, we'd prefer he was ready, but we understand the significance of the injury," Reagins said. "If we can be conservative and smart on the front end, hopefully it will benefit us in the long run."

The Angels are expected to open the season with Mark Trumbo at first. The rookie has had an excellent spring, entering Tuesday with a .340 average, five homers and 13 RBIs. But he also had 13 strikeouts and no walks in 47 at-bats, and he has only 15 at-bats in the big leagues.

"Spring training is spring training," Reagins said. "You still have to go out there and do it at the major league level, in season, but it's good to see what he's done in spring training."

Trumbo had 36 homers and 122 RBIs at triple-A Salt Lake last season, but having Morales in the middle of the lineup would give the Angels a much better chance of winning the American League West title.

"I'm real confident in saying he'll be back in relatively short order," Reagins said. "I'm not anticipating him being out for months."

Back on track

Dan Haren gave up eight runs in 6 2/3 innings, but the right-hander called Tuesday's 95-pitch outing against a Cubs triple-A team a huge step in the right direction.

"I felt really good; I left a lot of balls up, but my arm speed is finally back," Haren said. "That was the longest dead-arm period I've ever had. I haven't felt good since [a March 7 game in] Mesa.

"But it bounced back today, and I'm glad."

Pineiro update

Joel Pineiro, who left Sunday's triple-A start after two innings because of tightness in his right shoulder blade, will remain in Arizona after the Angels break camp. He will pitch in a minor league game March 30.

With two off days in the first week of the regular season, the Angels won't need a fifth starter until April 10, so they could open the season with Pineiro on the DL and carry an extra reliever or position player.

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