SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The date circled on Kendrys Morales' calendar -- or highlighted on his cellphone -- is March 20. The Angels' first baseman needs to be fit enough to run in game conditions by Sunday to realistically carve out a spot in the Opening Day lineup 11 days later in Kansas City.
"He still has some things he needs to do before he gets in games," manager Mike Scioscia said on Wednesday, Morales having run base to base a day earlier in his latest progression from left ankle surgery. "Running the bases is one of them.
"Defensively and in the batter's box, he feels good. His window is coming up. He has to get in games, whether here or a camp game, by the 20th to give himself [enough time] to get not only healthy, but locked in. With every injury, the rehab is going to be on its own time. He's night and day from where he was when he came into camp. He's close."
Morales said he had no problems running base to base, and that the ankle felt fine afterward. He is not sure if he'll be ready to assume his role at first base or serve as a designated hitter by Opening Day.
If Morales can't make it, Mark Trumbo -- one of the game's hottest hitters this spring -- will be at first base with Bobby Abreu in the DH role. If Morales can only appear in the lineup as the DH, Abreu likely goes to left and Vernon Wells to center, with Peter Bourjos the odd man out.
Bourjos also has enjoyed a strong spring and gives the Angels a defensive presence in center field they love -- especially fly-ball pitchers such as Jered Weaver.
Abreu in familiar spot in Angels' new-look lineup
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bobby Abreu has been locked into the No. 2 spot in the batting order most of the spring, but he was back in his familiar third slot on Wednesday for the Angels' Cactus League game against the D-backs in the dazzling new Salt River Fields.
"I've had some success in the three hole," Abreu said, grinning. His streak of seven consecutive 100-plus RBI seasons ended last year.
Following Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar, who combined to reach base five times, Abreu doubled, singled and produced a sacrifice fly, driving in three runs in the Angels' 10-8 win.
Hitting cleanup, Torii Hunter unloaded his second homer in as many days, a shot to left-center against D-backs starter Ian Kennedy.
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
News & Features
- Star-laden Angels, Dodgers drawing national attention
- Madson to travel with team, continue rehab on road
- Worth noting
- After rough start to spring, 'pen turning it around
- Blanton impressive, but Angels held to just two hits
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Vernon Wells, Howard Kendrick, Mark Trumbo, Jeff Mathis and starter Jered Weaver filled out a lineup that could surface on Opening Day in Kansas City, with Peter Bourjos in Weaver's spot playing center field. The return of Kendrys Morales, which is up in the air, would force Trumbo to the bench.
Bourjos, playing in his hometown, gave the locals a good look at his amazing speed, flying around the bases when center fielder Chris Young misplayed his single in the sixth inning. Bourjos scored with a slide, almost catching Mathis, who can run, on the three-base error.
With three singles and a walk in five at-bats, Mathis hiked his spring average to .400. Bobby Wilson banged the game-turning three-run double as the fill-in at first for Trumbo, who left with tightness in his groin. Wilson is batting .448. Aybar, Kendrick and outfielder Angel Castillo each produced two hits in the 17-hit Angels attack, and Brandon Wood stroked an RBI triple.
"This is one lineup we might look at," manager Mike Scioscia said of the National League look Izturis and Aybar provide at the top. "If Kendrys' available, we still might look at Bobby as the No. 2 hitter."
Abreu, at 37, is coming off the worst season of his career, but maintains he's confident he'll return to his familiar form approaching a .300 batting average and an OBP close to .400. Even in an off season, he managed to produce 20 homers and 24 steals while batting .255 with a .352 OBP.
"He's still running well," Scioscia said. "His bat speed's still there. He has what he needs."
Weaver keeps strikeouts coming
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even when he's concentrating on other things, such as working his off-speed stuff into his repertoire, Jered Weaver can't help himself. He just keeps punching out hitters.
The Major League strikeout leader last season with 233, Weaver has 17 in 13 1/3 innings of Cactus League work after striking out six without walking a batter on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.
Weaver yielded three earned runs on three hits, including Juan Miranda's two-run homer, before reaching his pitch limit of 76 when he got the first out in the fifth inning. Fifty of those pitches were in the strike zone, telling Weaver his command is where he wants it. He has not walked a hitter all spring, giving up 12 hits and hitting one batter.
"I feel good," Weaver said. "My location's a lot better as Spring Training comes to an end. My off-speed stuff was good. The slider's coming around. Usually it's the last thing to come around. Mechanically, everything's not quite there. But I got my work in, and everything feels good."
Weaver is the logical Opening Day starter, virtually certain to get the call, but it hasn't been made official yet by manager Mike Scioscia, who likes to wait such things out.
"No idea," Weaver said when asked if he'd heard anything.
Takahashi, Kohn turns heads out of 'pen
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hisanori Takahashi and Michael Kohn continued their stellar work out of the Angels' bullpen in Wednesday's 10-8 decision.
Takahashi, who could be throwing his hat into the closer picture, retired six consecutive hitters after yielding a leadoff single in the sixth. He has worked seven scoreless innings while yielding four hits and no walks, with six strikeouts.
Kohn, who was 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his Major League debut last year, has quietly had a superb spring in his bid for late-innings responsibilities.
After consecutive singles had runners at the corners with none out in the eighth, Kohn struck out Cody Ransom and induced a double-play grounder from Konrad Schmidt.
Kohn has worked seven scoreless innings, striking out six while yielding eight hits and walking only one hitter. His 16 walks (against 20 strikeouts) in 21 1/3 innings represented his lone liability last season. He set out to pound the strike zone with a more aggressive mindset this spring, and his confidence is visible.
"You always want to evaluate a pitcher on that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said when asked about the poise under duress exhibited by both Takahashi and Kohn. "With Takahashi, you wouldn't expect any different. Michael started making pitches with two on. He created some margin for error in the zone. He's got a live arm. No doubt [the ball] is coming out hotter than we saw at the end of last year in the big leagues."
Jason Bulger finished with two strikeouts in the ninth, yielding a run on two hits.
Trumbo leaves game with tightness in groin
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Carrying the Angels' offense this spring finally caught up with first baseman Mark Trumbo on Wednesday. He felt tightness in his groin running to first base on a double-play ground ball in the second inning and decided this was the time for discretion.
"I hate to come out of a game, but I felt it was the right thing to do," Trumbo said, having departed after two innings in front of 12,434 fans at Salt River Fields. "No sense taking any chances. I felt something in the groin, and decided to come in and have some treatment."
Replacing Trumbo, Bobby Wilson got his first taste of first base this spring and delivered again with the bat, cracking a three-run double to give the Angels the lead in a six-run sixth inning.
Trumbo, seizing the opportunity with Kendrys Morales recovering from left ankle surgery, is batting .340 and ranks among the Major League spring leaders in homers (five), doubles (five), RBIs (13) and slugging (.750).
Torii Hunter has been nursing a bruised thumb, but it didn't prevent him from turning on an inside fastball by Padres southpaw Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday and powering his first homer of the spring. "That felt good," Hunter said. "I'm getting there. It's all about being ready on the 31st [of March, in Kansas City]. Hunter showed he was getting close with another solo blast on Wednesday against the D-backs' Ian Kennedy in the second inning at Salt River Fields. ... The Angels assigned pitchers Ryan Brasier, Ysmael Carmona, Ryan Chaffee, Tyler Chatwood, Matt Meyer and Andrew Taylor to Minor League camp along with outfielder Tyson Auer. They are still eligible to play in Cactus League games. Forty players remain in Major League camp with two weeks to Opening Day.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.