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09/21/10 11:20 PM ET
Upbeat Morales joins Angels teammates
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Decked out in an Angels uniform for the first time since May 29, when he landed all wrong on home plate and was lost for the season, Kendry Morales was in an upbeat mood on Tuesday, looking ahead to a full recovery from left leg surgery in 2011. "I don't think I have any reason to have any doubt about coming back 100 percent," Morales said through a translator in the home dugout at Angel Stadium, meeting the media on Tuesday evening for the first time since the incident. "The doctor said I was in good hands, that everything went well. I'll be ready for next year." Angels manager Mike Scioscia managed to make light of a question about the benefit of having Morales back with his teammates as the long and trying season without him winds down. "It'll be good when he's out playing first base," Scioscia said. "Seriously, it is good to see him. He feels good where his rehab is. We'll see how things progress. We're looking forward to getting him out there -- whenever that is." Scioscia said he doesn't deal in hypothetical questions -- as in what if Morales hadn't landed awkwardly on the plate after his game-winning grand slam against the Mariners that day? The difference it would have made is unanswerable, in the manager's mind. "There's no point to it," Scioscia said. "When you talk about 'what if' scenarios, it's what your lineup's going to look like. Getting Kendry Morales back is the biggest free-agent signing you could ever have in the offseason. We're looking forward to it." Morales, with a phenomenal finish to the 2009 season, placed fifth in the American League's Most Valuable Player balloting. He batted .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs. The Angels will have nobody with numbers in that neighborhood when 2010 ends. On crutches for about two months, he estimated, after undergoing surgery to repair his fractured leg, Morales has been in Southern California throughout his recovery, seeing therapists and doctors and doing their prescribed exercise programs. "It's been difficult, because it's the first time in my career I've been in this position," Morales said. "As much as you want to help on the field, you can't. You try to help mentally, with the guys. I talk to them quite a bit -- joke around and bust their chops, like before." Asked what the team has missed most -- his offense, defense or personality -- Morales had a surprising response. "Probably my personality," he said. "I'm always trying to keep the guys loose, especially in the clubhouse. For me, that's probably what they're missing most -- my personality." Morales has Silver Slugger and Gold Glove talents, but the road to regaining his timing and rhythm in those pursuits will have to wait. "I haven't started any baseball activities or running," Morales said. "I'm doing strength exercises for my calf, jumping around as part of my workout every day." Jumping, he discovered, was not one of his strengths when he fell awkwardly at home plate, surrounded by teammates in the wild home-plate celebration that has become routine following such theatrics. The Angels, along with other clubs, have implemented new rules for those moments to try to make sure there is no repeat of what Scioscia called at the time a "sickening" development. Morales, with power from both sides of the plate and a superb glove at first base, was batting .290 when he went down with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 51 games. It is reasonable to assume he would have equaled or surpassed his production numbers from '09, given that he didn't take off until midway through that season when he began to apply the discipline and selectivity at the plate that had been missing. "It's tough to know," he said, asked if he felt his 2010 season would have been better than '09. "Baseball is a round ball that comes in a square box. Last year I started off not doing very well and finished strong. This year, I started out well and thought things were going in the right direction. But you never know." Morales has watched television replays of his fall. "I just got caught up in the emotion of the game," he said. "It happened. What can I do? "I don't remember much. I remember jumping, being on the ground, looking at my foot and thinking perhaps it was broken." After that, he was hauled off to a nearby hospital, where X-rays confirmed what was feared: Morales was lost for the season. Scioscia has used eight first basemen in the big man's absence. It will be left to historians to determine if Morales' absence led to a lost season for a club that trails front-running Texas by 9 1/2 games with 12 left in the AL West -- a division owned by the Angels the past three seasons and five of the past six.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.