02/29/12 7:01 PM EST
Kendrick could thrive hitting second
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
"As long as I'm not hitting 10th," he says.
But the Angels all of a sudden have a coveted, ideal spot in their batting order heading into the 2012 season: The No. 2 spot, right in front of premier slugger Albert Pujols.
The most important thing for a pitcher facing the Angels' lineup next season will be to make sure Pujols isn't hitting with runners on base. That means taking care of the guys who are setting the table. And that means making sure the man hitting directly in front of the No. 3-hitting first baseman isn't getting walked.
"They might try to come at you a little more, but they're not going to try to give it up, either," Kendrick said. "It'd be fun. It'd be fun hitting in front of him if that happens, but at the same time, too, as long as I'm in the lineup, that's all I can ask for."
Mike Scioscia will use Spring Training games to figure out which duo works best at the top of the order. But Kendrick hit primarily second for him last season, when he hit .285 with a .338 on-base percentage and a career-high 18 homers.
Kendrick spent 43 of his games batting second, along with 22 in the No. 3 spot, 39 hitting fifth and 28 sixth. Shortstop Erick Aybar was next with 35 games in the two-hole, followed by Bobby Abreu at 27.
A No. 2 hitter, as Kendrick says, has to "do a little bit of everything," whether it's hit-and-run, bunt, drive the ball or draw walks. But batting in the No. 2 spot can also be of big individual benefit if an especially intimidating bat waits on deck.
Rich Aurilia's career year coincided with hitting second in front of former Giants slugger Barry Bonds in 2001. And it surely didn't hurt Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to hit second in front of guys like Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Alex Rodriguez from 1998-2004.
What would Kendrick's numbers look like if he hit second in front of Pujols?
"I can't even tell you," Kendrick, who signed a four-year extension this offseason, said with a laugh. "I think one of the biggest things is I just have to go out and play, and just help us win. It could be great, but we don't know yet."
Trumbo set to start all baseball activities
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mark Trumbo got the news he had been searching for all offseason on Wednesday morning, when a CT scan revealed his right foot had healed to the point where he can start running and get more aggressive with his work at third base.
Trumbo, who had been limited in his offseason and early spring work because of a stress fracture in that foot, began progressing toward full-on baseball activities Wednesday by doing some agility drills and fielding ground balls side to side. He hopes to field slow rollers by the end of the week.
The Angels start their Cactus League schedule next week, opening up at the Athletics' facility on Monday, but Trumbo isn't sure when he'll start playing in exhibition games just yet.
"It's not smart just to get back into it and go full bore, maybe hurt something else," said Trumbo, who was cleared after seeing Dr. Phil Kwong in Los Angeles on Tuesday. "But I am cleared to do anything I need to. That's the news I was hoping for."
Trumbo originally anticipated a mid-November return to baseball activities when he was first diagnosed with the foot injury in late September, but was told at that point to stay off it for an extra month. Then, a CT scan he underwent just before the new year revealed that the crack in his foot was still large enough that he would need a few more weeks to heal.
Up until Tuesday's visit, Trumbo had been taking batting practice but had been limited to just fielding groundballs hit directly at him.
"There's still a progression," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think the perfect-case scenario was that he would've already had two weeks of working at third base aggressively. It's one thing taking ground balls at third base, but the aggressiveness that he's going to need to get acclimated and to be able to be evaluated is a much higher level, and we can start working towards that."
Morales one step away from running the bases
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kendrys Morales, the Angels slugger recovering from a broken left ankle, has completed two days of making cuts along the outfield, which represents the second-to-last phase of his running program.
So far, so good.
"Every day I'm feeling better," Morales said Wednesday in Spanish. "[I have] more strength in my legs, particularly the left leg. I also have better push off my legs, and the best thing is that [the ankle] doesn't swell up on me and doesn't hurt."
If that progress continues, Morales will simulate running the bases next week, with the Angels hoping to start getting him in Spring Training games the week after that. Manager Mike Scioscia said Morales hasn't had any trouble swinging the bat from the right side of the plate, which is the side that would figure to give his recovering left ankle the most trouble.
Last spring, Morales had one day of running in a straight line without any trouble. After that, it all went downhill.
"That was the apex of his recovery, and it deteriorated from there," Scioscia recalled. "The ankle wasn't going to hold up. ... No doubt, he's in a different position now because he's had nothing but progression to the point where you can see that he'll progress to playing games in a couple of weeks."
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.