02/02/12 11:42 AM EST
Morales getting back into swing for Halos
Results from batting practice impressing assistant GM Servais
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Granted, Servais -- who spent the last six years in Texas before GM Jerry Dipoto hired him in November -- never got an up-close look at Morales when he was healthy. And, of course, what Morales can contribute this season won't be known until Spring Training.
But Servais likes what he has seen, and he has an expert eye about this sort of thing.
"It looks pretty good to me," Servais said of Morales' swing. "I'm cautiously optimistic that he's going to be able to get into a bunch of Spring Training games and get some timing together. Obviously, he hasn't played in a while, so it's going to take him a while to get the bat going, but I'm very optimistic about his chances to contribute to our club this year."
Morales, who missed the last 1 1/2 seasons with a broken left ankle and follow-up surgery, has been taking batting practice from both sides of the plate, as well as throwing and working on creating more range of motion in his ankle and foot area. But Morales still has to show he can work his way toward full-on sprinting and fare well against Major League pitchers trying to get him out -- not BP throwers trying to find barrels.
"It's going to take a while," said Servais, who will oversee scouting and player development with the Angels. "He hasn't seen game pitching in quite some time, so when he does get to the point where he's moving good enough and gets into some Spring Training games, it's going to take him a while to get some timing together."
Last year, Morales wasn't able to clear the final hurdle -- running at full speed -- and was instead forced to undergo a second season-ending ankle surgery in May, almost one year removed from originally hurting the ankle while stomping on home plate after a walk-off homer.
The Angels have been impressed with Morales' recovery this offseason, but they've been careful, deciding against setting firm timetables in order to allow the 28-year-old switch-hitter to recover on his own terms.
"He can get into some baseball activities, he can look good in January as he starts to move around and run, and you get him on the field -- and that's a huge hurdle, to get spikes on and do things you need to do at first base," manager Mike Scioscia said during the Winter Meetings in early December. "It's something we're not going to find out in December or January. We're going to find that out in February, March -- and hopefully have him ready to start the season with us."
Morales began his uphill climb by swinging off a tee and lightly jogging earlier this offseason. Then, about three weeks ago, he was cleared to amp up baseball activities at the Angels' Minor League complex in Tempe, Ariz.
"The ball's jumping off his bat; there's power there," Servais said. "... At the end of the day, what we're going to get out of him, whether it's 350, 450, 550 -- I don't know how many -- at-bats," Servais said. "But I feel he's going to be able to impact our club this year."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.