ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia remained coy about the Opening Day lineup he'd trot out on Friday night against Royals lefty Bruce Chen. But there's a good chance Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales -- the former first basemen who have had to make some changes now that Albert Pujols is on board -- will both be in it.
Scioscia reiterated during Thursday's workout that he'd like Morales to hit cleanup against righties and bat lower in the lineup -- at least initially -- against lefties. When the slugging switch-hitter does get a day off, it'd come against a lefty, but the likely scenario -- one unconfirmed by Scioscia -- is for Morales' day off to come in Sunday's series finale, when the Royals throw another southpaw in Jonathan Sanchez.
If Morales does make his way toward the batter's box on Friday, it'll mark his first regular-season at-bat since that fateful May 29, 2010, game in which he suffered a broken left ankle on a walk-off grand slam.
It would also mark the end of what has been a long, twisted, frustrating recovery.
"We feel good for Kendrys, because we know what a struggle it's been for him," Scioscia said. "To see him come back and just to be playing baseball again -- hopefully at the same level he was in '09 -- is important for us, obviously. It's his career, and we hope he gets back on track to where he was moving towards."
For Trumbo, it'll mark the end of what can for the most part be deemed a successful Spring Training at his new position of third base.
Trumbo did commit a team-high four errors at the hot corner and struggled a bit in the just-completed Freeway Series, awkwardly charging a Juan Rivera chopper and making an errant throw to first base on Monday -- though it was ruled an infield single -- and bobbling a grounder hit slightly to his right on Wednesday.
But he and the coaches have been satisfied with the progress he's made there over the last month.
With Jered Weaver, a fly-ball pitcher, on the mound for the Angels and a lefty taking the bump for the Royals, Friday is the ideal time for Trumbo to start at third.
"Overall, Mark is still a work in progress out there," Scioscia said. "But his ability to make the routine plays, we're comfortable with that."
Anticipation runs high as Halos get in light work
ANAHEIM -- Call it the calm before the storm.
On Thursday afternoon, the Angels held a relaxed, informal -- yet mandatory -- workout at Angel Stadium, taking some light batting practice and infield work a little more than 24 hours before arguably the most anticipated season in their franchise's history would get under way.
Against the Royals on Friday, at 7:05 p.m. PT, Jered Weaver will take the ball for his third straight Opening Day start and Albert Pujols will take his first regular-season at-bat at Angel Stadium, as the Angels will look to build on a string in which they've won seven of their last eight Opening Day matchups.
In the end, the result won't be very telling (it's just one of 162, as they say).
But it will signal the start of a season that comes with great expectations -- expectations manager Mike Scioscia is trying hard to temper.
"Naturally, as your team gets stronger, the prospects of reaching your goals becomes much clearer," Scioscia, baseball's longest-tenured skipper, said. "You're excited about that. But there's a lot of work ahead of us. This is about the grind. We have a good team, we have a much deeper team than we've had in a long time, and hopefully it's going to become productive on the field."
For whatever it's worth, with regards to their two most important players, stats point pretty heavily in the Angels' favor for Friday's game.
Pujols, who attended high school in the Kansas City area, has historically mashed Royals pitching, sporting a career .379 clip with 16 homers in 51 games. That batting average is his highest total against any club (minimum 100 at-bats). On Opening Day -- as a member of the Cardinals, of course -- he's a career .417 hitter (17-for-41) with four homers and 13 RBIs.
And as good as Weaver was pitching everywhere in 2011 -- when he finished second in American League Cy Young Award voting -- he has been practically untouchable in the confines of home the last two seasons, where the thick night air tends to play favorably to a fly-ball pitcher. Weaver went 14-6 at Angel Stadium from 2010-11, with a 1.85 home ERA that is the lowest in baseball over that span (minimum 150 innings).
On Friday night, when the Angels kick off their 52nd season with their second straight opener against Kansas City, a sold-out crowd will be on hand, with David Cook singing the national anthem, three members of the 2002 World Series team -- Tim Salmon, Troy Percival and David Eckstein -- throwing out the first pitch and ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" broadcasting from the front of the ballpark.
The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports West, ESPN2 and MLB.TV.
The Angels will go in with the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, at just more than $154 million.
"Opening Day is always filled with some butterflies for players, and you have to work through that and play baseball," Scioscia said. "You want to get that first pitch of the game and into that first inning and keep moving forward until you get comfortable and hopefully carry that through the season."
Earning spot a 'big deal' for diminutive Amarista
ANAHEIM -- Listed at a generous 5-foot-7, Angels utility man Alexi Amarista has been fighting to prove doubters wrong all his life.
During Wednesday's Spring Training finale at Dodger Stadium, Amarista was told he had proved enough to crack the Angels' Opening Day roster, beating out a couple of veterans who came over on Minor League contracts -- corner infielder Jorge Cantu and outfielder Ryan Langerhans.
Amarista's first phone call went to his mother, Ana Maria, in Venezuela.
"I was really happy to hear the news from the manager," Amarista said in Spanish. "It's a big deal for me to be with this team on Opening Day for the first time."
Signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, the 23-year-old, lefty-hitting Amarista produced a .314/.373/.443 slash line in five seasons in the Minors and saw action in 23 Major League games last season. In the end, Amarista made the club because of his hot spring (he hit .322 with six extra-base hits in 27 games), his versatility (he can play the middle infield and all three outfield spots) and his speed.
"I'm just going to do all I can to help this club in whatever way possible," Amarista said. "I'll give it my best and let the rest take care of itself."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.