Kendrys Morales has a .373 slugging percentage, a steep drop from his .569… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)
SEATTLE — — Mike Scioscia is convinced that Kendrys Morales, who returned this season after missing 11/2 years because of a broken left ankle, is still capable of the kind of power he showed in 2009, when he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in.
"There's no doubt," the Angels manager said, "that physically, the skills are still there."
He must be hiding them well. Morales has a respectable .276 average, but the switch-hitter is not driving the ball consistently, a major concern considering he hits fourth or fifth. Morales didn't hit anything Saturday, striking out four times in a 5-3 win over the Mariners.
Morales has a .373 slugging percentage, a steep drop from his .569 mark in 2009, and in 39 games the designated hitter has three homers, four doubles and 12 runs batted in.
Since a three-hit game, which included a homer, against Minnesota on May 2, Morales has one extra-base hit and four RBIs in 19 games.
Now that No. 3 hitter Albert Pujols has found his power stroke — he has six homers in 10 games and 21 RBIs in 20 games — the Angels need a presence in the cleanup spot to help deter opponents from pitching around Pujols.
Scioscia is hitting Mark Trumbo fourth against left-handers and Morales against right-handers. If Morales doesn't improve soon, Scioscia may have little choice but to use Trumbo or Torii Hunter, when he comes off the restricted list, in the fourth spot.
"Slugging percentage is important," Scioscia said. "But we need production. We need Kendrys to drive guys in whether it's with a single, a double or home run."
Morales is no speed demon but has run the bases fairly well considering the severity of his injury. Scioscia believes Morales' struggles have more to do with his transition from first base to DH than any physical impediments or rust from his long layoff.
"I don't see any regression — he just needs to get that feel in the box again," Scioscia said. "I think there's more production in Kendrys than he's shown."
Peter Bourjos lost his center-field job to Mike Trout in late April, and now he's losing playing time to recent triple-A call-up Kole Calhoun, who started over Bourjos on Saturday for the second game in a row.
Saturday's lineup was not a surprise. With tough right-hander Felix Hernandez starting for Seattle, Scioscia thought the left-handed-hitting Calhoun would have a better chance than the right-handed Bourjos, who is two for 14 against Hernandez.
"Everybody wants to play, but I've accepted that this is where I'm at right now," said Bourjos, who has started eight games in May. "It's what's best for the team. I'm not going to pout."
Scioscia said Hunter, who since May 14 has been in Texas to deal with the arrest of his 17-year-old son, Darius McClinton-Hunter, on suspicion of sexual assault, will return to California "in the next couple of days."