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Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales still not ready

Early predictions of return seem to have been overly ambitious. "You have to be patient," Manager Mike Scioscia says.

May 06, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales watches batting practice before a game against the Cleveland Indians at Angel Stadium.
Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales watches batting practice before… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )

The Angels were confident in December that Kendrys Morales, who suffered a season-ending broken left ankle last May 29, would be ready to open the season.

"We're anticipating him to be full go in spring training," Manager Mike Scioscia said at the winter meetings.

The company line didn't change in mid-February, even though Morales was not running when the team opened spring training.

"I have no doubt he'll be 100% by the start of the season," Scioscia said on the first day of camp.

Friday, as the Angels entered their sixth week of the season without their best hitter, that tune — and the timeline for Morales' recovery — changed, somewhat drastically.

Asked if he was surprised how slowly Morales is recovering, Scioscia's response was an indication that the Angels don't expect Morales back until June, at the earliest, and perhaps an admission that those earlier forecasts were far too ambitious.

"It hasn't even been a year yet," Scioscia said. "It was a serious injury. You have to be patient through some parts of it."

Dr. Phil Kwong, a foot and ankle specialist, and Dr. Lewis Yocum, team physician, met with Morales on Friday "to give him some feedback about where he is and some guidance in his rehab," Scioscia said.

The manager did not emerge from the meeting with much hope that Morales will return any time soon.

Morales, who hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in in 2009, was shut down last week and is currently being held out of baseball activities to give the ankle more time to heal. He began jogging lightly on a treadmill Friday.

The 6-foot-1 Morales, who is listed in the media guide at 225 pounds, reported to spring training at 248 pounds and lost 14 pounds by the end of camp.

Though losing more weight would seem to take more stress off the ankle, Scioscia said Morales' weight is not an issue.

"He's not far off from where he played at last year, so it's not a factor," Scioscia said. "There's been frustration because he's gotten close at times, where you think there's going to be breakthrough and he's going to get onto the field, and he plateaus out."

Out in left field

In an effort to get more left-handed bats in the lineup against Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson, Scioscia started 5-7 middle infielder Alexi Amarista in left field Friday night.

Amarista, 23, played all three outfield positions, as well as second base, during his second year of pro ball in the Arizona Summer League in 2008.

But he played left field only six times that season and had not played in the outfield since 2008. He has worked in the outfield during batting practice since being called up April 25.

"He's athletic enough that he should be able to do it," Scioscia said. "I don't know if he'll be jumping over walls and taking home runs away, but he'll be OK."

Short hops

Pitcher Scott Kazmir's return from lower-back soreness is on an extremely slow track — the struggling left-hander has been at the team's extended spring training camp in Arizona for almost three weeks. He is scheduled to push his pitch count to 100 in a game this weekend, after which he could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment. … Reliever Jason Bulger, who was designated for assignment April 27, has cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to triple-A Salt Lake.

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