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Angels' Kendrys Morales to undergo new surgery, is lost for 2011

The player suffered an ankle fracture last season but was expected to be available by opening day this year. He was fifth in the AL MVP voting in 2009.

May 12, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales will miss the entire season after choosing to have surgery on his injured left ankle.
Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales will miss the entire season after… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )

Kendrys Morales will not be rescuing the Angels offense this season. The first baseman has elected to undergo a second surgery on the left ankle he broke last May 29, a procedure that will sideline the slugger for all of 2011.

General Manager Tony Reagins, flanked by Morales and team physician Lewis Yocum, made the announcement in the Angel Stadium press dining room during the second inning of the Angels' 6-4 loss against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.

"It's definitely a challenge for us not having Kendrys in the middle of the lineup; it's definitely a significant blow," Reagins said. "But having gone through most of last season without Kendrys, the team has learned how to deal with his absence and move forward. We've had adversity before. We'll have adversity again."

The surgery, which will start out as an arthroscopic procedure, will be performed by Dr. Thomas O. Clanton, a Colorado foot and ankle specialist, at a date to be determined.

Clanton will clean out scar tissue and remove degenerative cysts that have formed in the ankle. A bone graft might also be required, Yocum said.

Last June, Morales, who broke the ankle when he jumped on home plate in celebration of a walk-off home run against the Seattle Mariners, underwent surgery in which a pin and six screws were inserted into the ankle.

"The doctor will address any of the pathological changes he sees," Yocum said. "This will help him get range of motion as well as diminish the amount of arthritic change in the joint."

Yocum said recovery time for the procedure is a minimum of six months, which means that by 2012, Morales, who hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in and finished fifth in American League most valuable player balloting in 2009, will have missed almost two full seasons.

He has been replaced by rookie Mark Trumbo, who is tied for the team lead with six homers and has 17 RBIs.

The Angels expected Morales to be at full strength for opening day this season.

"I think I was ready for anything after the first surgery, but did I think I'd be at this point? No," Morales, 27, said through an interpreter. "I'd like to be on the field, but at this point, I think this is the best decision for us."

Morales had been under the care of Yocum and Dr. Phil Kwong, a foot and ankle specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic, but he was frustrated enough with his slower-than-expected rehabilitation that he sought a second opinion this week.

Morales was shut down completely in early May after taking a cortisone injection — his second in three months — to ease the inflammation and discomfort. He was never able to take turns on the bases or run straight ahead at full speed.

Morales traveled to Vail, Colo., on Tuesday to meet with Clanton, an orthopedic surgeon and director of foot and ankle sports medicine at the Steadman Clinic. Clanton has served as team physician for the NBA's Houston Rockets and NFL's Houston Texans.

"One of the alternatives was to continue the conservative course," Yocum said. "Kendrys has worked as hard as any athlete I've ever worked with to come back from a devastating injury, and he hasn't been able to do it.

"We're trying to gear up for next season, and one of the options was to address this with an aggressive procedure … to try to get him back for 2012."

Yocum said there is no structural damage in the ankle and that the injury — and the two subsequent surgeries — should not be career-threatening for Morales.

"The fracture is healed completely," Yocum said. "A fracture/dislocation of the ankle in any athlete, in any individual, is a very serious injury. This is unfortunate, but it is not unexpected."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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