Angels slugger Kendrys Morales heads to the field for a spring training… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)
Kendrys Morales took some major strides toward returning to game action for the first time in nearly two years Sunday when he ran around planted bases in spikes in morning workouts before the Angels' spring training game against the Cleveland Indians.
"He looks like he could be seeing action by the middle of [this week]," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.
When someone asked Scioscia if Morales was capable of starting the regular season with the team, the manager said, "Absolutely."
Morales, a switch-hitting slugger who batted .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in during 2009, broke his left ankle on May 29, 2010, jumping onto home plate while celebrating a walk-off home run. He underwent a second operation in 2011, when doctors cleaned out debris and performed a bone graft.
If he can return, the Angels will play Morales at designated hitter with Albert Pujols at first base and Mark Trumbo at third.
"Every day, I feel better," Morales told The Times on Saturday, and Sunday's workout was a continuation of those good feelings.
"He ran very well," Scioscia said. "He'll repeat that, and then we'll see how he comes out of it."
Scioscia viewed a video tape of Morales' baserunning.
"His gait is much better, his legs just need to get used to running, there's some stiffness he'll need to work out," Scioscia said.
The manager cautioned, "There's still hurdles. You can't simulate adrenaline, secondary leads. It was his left foot [broken], though, so the right foot should be fine. The quick twitch, things you can only see in playing is what we'll watch to get a guide."
A next-day evaluation of the ankle and Morales' hamstring will be followed by "getting him on the bases a couple more times," and Scioscia said it's possible Morales' return to the field would come Thursday when minor-league games begin.
"The confidence grows each time he goes out there," Scioscia said.