Ten months removed from the freak accident that caused Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman Kendry Morales to miss the remainder of the season, and he is still not 100% recovered and ready to return to game action. His status on the Opening Day roster is now in question.
Morales, who broke his ankle while celebrating a walk-off grand slam on May 29, has not yet played in any of the Angels' spring training games. If he is to be on the active roster for the Angels' Opening Day on March 31, he will need to return to the field by this coming Sunday.
"If I feel good, I'll play Sunday," Morales told ESPN. "I want to play, but No. 1, it's not my decision, and No. 2, I don't want to go out there if I'm not 100 percent."
So far, Morales has been able to resume baseball activities. He says that he has found hitting and fielding the easiest, and he has even been able to run full speed from home to first. The problem that has delayed his return to the field so far has been flexibility and range of motion. Morales will not play in spring games until he is capable of running the bases.
"I really feel like the flexibility factor is not there yet," he explained. "But I'm getting the strength back the more I do. The mobility, the range of motion is not there. And there's a little inflammation, that's what's not 100 percent."
While Morales and Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, maintain hope that the slugger will be able to return to the Angels' lineup by Opening Day, they must also prepare for the proposition that Morales will need additional time to rehab his injury before rejoining the team.
If Morales opens the season on the disabled list, which at this point appears the most likely scenario, Mark Trumbo is set to fill in at first until Kendry can return full time. Trumbo has taken advantage of his opportunities this spring, batting .340 on 16 hits in 47 at-bats over 17 games. He has hit five home runs and driven in 13 runs for the Angels this spring.
The Angels are confident in Trumbo's abilities, and, as a result, have not rushed the process of Morales' recovery.
"Our medical staff has done a great job letting him go at his own pace," Scioscia told MLB.com. "It's a process. Is he going to be ready Opening Day or won't he? We haven't gotten the sense he's doing anything to put himself at risk as the window [Sunday] is nearing. We're not going to let him do that."
The impressive offensive production provided by Mark Trumbo, as well as some equally impressive glove work, have relieved any urgency the Angels may have felt in pushing Morales to return. Morales insists that Trumbo's impressive play has not placed any urgency on him to rush his rehab.
"My goal is to get ready," Morales said. "I'm not thinking about Trumbo or anybody."
Morales' hitting this spring has been the least of the Angels' concerns with their recovering slugger. While he has yet to hit in any game situations, he has rivaled the power display put on by Trumbo with one of his own.
Morales has been hitting from both sides of the plate all spring, and consistently puts on an impressive power display, hitting the ball well beyond the fences.
The Angels will be counting on Morales to return and help lead their offense as the Angels look to improve on their third-placed finish in the American League West last season. Morales will be an integral part of the Angels' 2011 successes, but, in the mean time, Trumbo is at least an adequate substitute allowing him to recover at his own pace.
As frustrating as the last 10 months have been for Morales and the entire Angels community, he is in fact close to returning and helping the Angels in 2011.
"I'm 100 percent confident I'm going to get there," Morales said on Thursday.
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