07/18/12 12:48 AM ET
Morales practicing patience with sporadic power
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
In many ways, it's a credit to Trumbo, whose improved strike-zone discipline has given him a team-leading 25 homers and 62 RBIs to go along with a .309 batting average and .361 on-base percentage.
It's also an indication that Morales just doesn't have the same power he used to.
Morales' slash line through the first 74 games -- .281/.325/.415 -- is fine. But it surely isn't indicative of a cleanup hitter, and it's a far cry from the man who finished an MVP-caliber 2009 season with a line of .306/.355/.569. When you consider Morales missed almost two full seasons with two left ankle surgeries -- and how important a strong base is for driving the ball -- a drop-off in power is to be expected.
Morales, while disappointed with his hitting so far, is hardly surprised.
"People are looking at the moment only," Morales said in Spanish, "but with the type of injury I had, it takes two years, minimum, to be 100 percent."
With an eighth-inning solo shot in Tuesday's 13-0 win over the Tigers, Morales has nine home runs all year. Before that, he had hit only one in his last 26 games and ranked 86th in the Majors -- behind guys such as Jason Kipnis, Brandon Phillips and Casey Kotchman -- in at-bats per home run. He's a switch-hitting power hitter, but most of the time he's resembled the switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar, spraying the ball and hitting against the shift.
"I never thought I'd hit the way I'm hitting this year," Morales said. "There are good days and bad days. But that's normal given all the time I missed. It had to be that way, because it's not easy. There's a lot of quality players out here, and they've stayed playing all those years that I've missed. I have to catch up."
As the season has progressed, Morales has sought out other ballplayers who have attempted to make similar comebacks from traumatic leg injuries, and they've all told him essentially the same thing: It'll take roughly two years to feel completely normal again, with the same strength and mobility.
Until then, at least, Morales is serviceable.
And he takes solace in the belief that he's trending upward.
"Every day, I'm feeling better," Morales said. "It's not the way I used to be, but every day, I'm getting a little better and progressing towards that. I think I've come a long way. Running, now, nothing bothers me. That's a big step. But there are still lots of adjustments that I need to make."
Trout meets kindred spirit in Kaline
DETROIT -- Can Mike Trout win a batting title at age 20?
At this point, it almost seems likely.
Trout came into Tuesday's game against the Tigers with an American League-leading .348 batting average. The second-place guy, Twins catcher Joe Mauer, was hitting .328. If Trout holds on to that sizable lead for the next two and a half months of the regular season, he'll become just the third player in modern history to win a batting title during his age-20 season.
You might have heard of the other two: Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Ty Cobb.
"I don't really think about that stuff," Trout said of his chances of finishing with the top batting average in the AL. "Just go out there and try to do whatever I can to help the team win. If at the end of the year I win the batting title, it's definitely an awesome accomplishment.
"It's definitely an individual goal, but it's still a long year. So I just have to play hard every day."
Trout got similar advice from Kaline himself, who's a regular at Comerica Park, has become a big fan of Trout and finally had a chance to meet him after batting practice on Monday.
"I met him in the hallway," Trout recalled. [Manager Mike] Scioscia said, 'I want you to meet somebody.' I knew of him. My mom lived in Michigan and was a big fan of his growing up. It was pretty neat to meet him."
In 1955, Kaline won the batting title with a .340 batting average -- though he was at a .368 clip by July 17 -- and also finished second in AL Most Valuable Player voting, adding 27 homers and 102 RBIs as the Tigers' right fielder.
Forget Rookie of the Year. Trout looks like a favorite for the AL MVP Award right now -- and he gave everyone a one-month head start. Heading into Tuesday, he led the AL in stolen bases (30), ranked fourth in OPS (.972), was fifth in runs (61) and paced the Junior Circuit in Wins Above Replacement (5.0).
Then he went 4-for-6 in the Angels' 13-0 win over the Tigers, with three singles and a two-run homer to right-center field that traveled 442 feet, according to ESPN.
It's no wonder Kaline is impressed.
"He's a strong guy, runs really well, power -- he reminds me a little bit of a [Mickey] Mantle," Kaline told the Detroit Free Press for a recent article. "You don't see the combination of power and speed that he has."
Scioscia encouraged by Haren's rehab progress
DETROIT -- Dan Haren joined his Angels teammates during batting practice at Comerica Park on Tuesday, one day after completing five innings during a rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Monday night.
Haren, placed on the disabled list July 5 because of a stiff lower back that had been bothering him all year, gave up two runs on seven hits, walking none, striking out two and throwing 44 of his 65 pitches for strikes.
"First couple innings he was a little bit off of his command, but physically he felt great, so it was a good workout for him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He feels good."
Haren, on the DL for the first time in his 10-year career, will throw a bullpen session at some point in the next two days, and though Scioscia hasn't said anything definitively, it looks like he could start Sunday against the Rangers if there's no setback.
"I'll be good to go," the 31-year-old right-hander told MiLB.com from his rehab outing. "I wanted to make sure everything went fine today, and they wanted to make sure I came out of everything good. We'll see how I feel in the morning."
Haren wasn't available to speak with reporters on Tuesday because he showed up after access time.
Vernon Wells (right thumb surgery) expects to start a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday.
With a second-inning home run against the Tigers on Tuesday, Albert Pujols tied Chipper Jones for 33rd on the all-time homers list, with 461. He has 16 on the year.
C.J. Cron, the Angels' first-round Draft pick in 2011, is leading the California League with 76 RBIs in 92 games.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.