TEMPE, Ariz. -- Peter Bourjos, who knows he needs to improve his offense to claim the Angels' center-field job, isn't letting the pressure impact him, judging by recent results.
With a double and two singles, driving in two runs, on Thursday against the Mariners, Bourjos lifted his batting average to .364 this spring. He has five hits in his past 10 at-bats and has a .464 on-base percentage with four walks and only three strikeouts in 30 plate appearances. He also is 2-for-2 in steals and is handling everything within his vast range in center.
"You need to be productive at the bottom end of your lineup," said manager Mike Scioscia, who figures to have the ultra-swift Bourjos batting ninth to reduce the pressure. "Does he need to hit .300? No. He's bunting well, running the bases. As long as we see him contributing on the offensive end, it gives us a longer look at this lineup that we really like."
A .293 career hitter in the Minors who batted .314 last year at Triple-A Salt Lake, Bourjos hit .204 in 51 games after arriving in early August and assuming the center-field role. His six homers in 181 at-bats project to close to 20 for a full season, indicating he's no slap hitter trying to exploit his speed.
"He can drive the ball on occasion," Scioscia said. "When he hits a gap, it's fun to watch him run."
Bourjos said he would like to hit somewhere in the .260 to .300 range. Given his brilliant defense, the Angels would be satisfied with something in the lower range of that projection.
Takahashi's family is safe following earthquake
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A native of Tokyo with a wife and two children home in Japan, Angels pitcher Hisanori Takahashi was initially shocked by the massive earthquake that hit Japan on Friday and then relieved to discover that his family was safe.
This report came from Takahashi's translator, Yoichi Terada, whose family also was not harmed by the devastation in their homeland.
"We talked to Hisanori this morning and Yoichi, his translator," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Fortunately, their families weren't close to where it hit.
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"This is their livelihood and guys take it serious. But there are things more important."
Takahashi and his wife were on the phone, video chatting via Skype, on Thursday night when the picture began to distort. The pitcher was aware of something strange happening, and it turned out to be the 8.9 magnitude quake.
"Fortunately, my family is fine because we're in a little different area," he said through Terada's translation. "A lot of bad things. This morning, I checked the Internet and saw the video. It was horrible. I called them again, and they're fine."
As news and visuals of a tsunami rolled it, Angels players sat at their lockers, iPads in their hands, tracking the devastation. Scioscia spoke with his wife, Anne, by phone to make sure she wasn't staying in their second residence in Newport Beach, Calif., which was beginning to feel the residual effects of the tsunami.
"I'm a little nervous," Scioscia said. "We have a home in Newport Beach. I told her to get out of there. It's scary."
After pitching for 10 years for the Yomiuri Giants, where he was part of three Japanese championship teams, Takahashi signed with the New York Mets and pitched capably for them in 2010 in a variety of roles.
Signing a two-year, $8 million free-agent contract with the Angels in December, he has pitched three scoreless innings in Cactus League play, allowing three hits while striking out two batters.
Takahashi, 35, and wife Yeyol have two children, Sena and Aoba.
Morales sprints full speed, nears games
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Additional encouraging news has arrived on the Kendrys Morales recovery front.
"His last three sprints on the lower fields were full speed," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said on Friday morning, a day after the workout. "Morales is going to run again, straight ahead a few more days, and eventually he'll be getting on the bases -- probably by the latter part of next week.
"Once he passes that test, he's on to games."
Scioscia is pointing toward March 19 or 20 for Morales to begin appearing in Cactus League games, which would give him enough at-bats to be ready for the March 31 season opener in Kansas City. The switch-hitting first baseman has been swinging the bat without any issues since the start of camp, and he's been gaining mobility defensively in drills at first base.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.