02/25/2013 8:00 PM ET
Morales faces former team for first time with M's
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As soon as the Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract on Dec. 13, Kendrys Morales pretty much knew his time with the Angels was over.
"I already figured something was in the works," Morales said in Spanish. "I was ready for the call they gave me. It didn't take me by surprise at all."
Six days later, that call came from general manager Jerry Dipoto, who informed the switch-hitting slugger and career Angel that he was being traded to the Mariners in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Vargas. On Monday, Morales made his spring debut against his old team at Peoria Sports Complex, going 0-for-3 while batting cleanup as Seattle's designated hitter.
"I was really happy to see those guys again," said Morales, who was signed by the Angels in 2005. "It's been five or six months since I saw them. They're on the other side, but that doesn't matter. We played six-plus years together. The trainers, too. It's the first time I played against them, but now I have to defend another jersey."
Walking around the Mariners complex, Morales sported his trademark smile, rocked his typical cutoff sleeves and, as always, had an ice bag on his left ankle, which required two surgeries and once put his burgeoning career on hold.
The May 2010 incident, when he famously suffered a broken leg while stomping on home plate, was the low point of Morales' Angels career. But there were several highs. Like the '09 season that saw him finish fifth in American League Most Valuable Player voting. Or '12, when he made a remarkable comeback by hitting .273 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs in 134 games.
"I would've liked to stay in the organization I signed with," Morales said, "but you have to respect the decisions they made. They're the ones in charge."
Morales is happy with his new situation. He likes the Mariners' young talent, loves that they're moving the fences in at Safeco Field -- perfect timing for a pending free agent -- and is relieved to be pretty much done with rehab.
Morales only had good things to say about his time with the Angels, and though there were times last year when he was frustrated he wasn't in the lineup, he understands now that the Angels were just looking out for his health after he had been away for so long.
Morales was shocked that he was traded to an AL West rival, but he wasn't surprised he'll spend 2013 on a new team.
"As soon as they signed [Hamilton], I started preparing myself," Morales said. "I knew they were going to trade me. They didn't tell me anything; I just figured that would be the case. And it happened pretty quickly after that."
Hamilton scheduled to make Angels debut
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels are expected to unveil their new offseason prize Tuesday, when Josh Hamilton debuts with his new team against the D-backs' split squad.
The Angels will play at Tempe Diablo Stadium, in a 12:05 p.m. PT game that will be broadcast on MLB.TV.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick and third baseman Alberto Callaspo are also expected to debut, meaning every starting position player except Albert Pujols -- not slated to play in Cactus League games until about mid-March -- will have appeared in at least one game.
"It's not just Josh, we're working toward hopefully starting to get this whole group together within a couple weeks," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Once we see that and get them out there, and get that on-field chemistry going, that's what we're excited for."
Trout starts first full spring scoring more runs
PEORIA, Ariz. -- For all those that say it's almost impossible for Mike Trout, at 21 years old, to duplicate the historic rookie season he's coming off of, there's this: He'll actually have a normal spring this year.
Few remember that Trout barely even had a Spring Training in 2012. He arrived at camp sick, losing about 10 pounds because of a nasty virus, and even dealt with shoulder tendinitis that limited him to only hitting on the rare days he felt better. He totaled six Cactus League at-bats, prompting him to start the season in Triple-A Salt Lake before earning his promotion on April 28 and setting the world on fire.
"[Manager Mike Scioscia] jokes about it all the time -- it's my first full spring," Trout said after making his 2013 Cactus League debut Monday against the Mariners. "The main thing is staying healthy. That's my main goal this spring: stay healthy and get ready for the year, keep the legs loose."
Trout, starting in left field while Peter Bourjos played center, went 1-for-2 and scored two runs in an eventual 9-8 walk-off loss. He hit a chopper over the third baseman's head in his first plate appearance, popped out to shortstop in his second and drew a walk in his third.
"Timing's still not there, but it's the first game," Trout said. "It'll get better."
And the fact he actually has a spring to get that timing down could be a big key.
"For me, it's all about timing and seeing pitches," said Trout, who's actually approaching this spring about 10 pounds heavier after arriving 10 pounds lighter a year ago. "That's why we did a live pitchers BP during spring. Not even swinging, just getting the foot down, just feeling you got a little rhythm going, and things will start to click."
Expectations are sky high for Trout after a season in which he batted .326 with 30 homers, 49 stolen bases, 129 runs scored and a 10.7 Wins Above Replacement -- the highest for a position player since Barry Bonds in 2002, per baseball-reference.com.
But Trout continues to deflect questions about the pressure to duplicate that production.
"I go out and play, and whatever my numbers are at the end of the year, that's what they are," he said. "That's what I've been doing since I was a kid. I'm not worried about the stats, just trying to do everything I can to help the team win."
Madson, Burnett throw lightly from flat ground
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Walking onto the main field at Tempe Diablo Stadium at around 8 a.m. MT on Monday provided a rather welcoming site: Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson, the Angels' two recovering relievers, throwing side by side.
It's still baby steps, though. The Angels are being extra cautious with their two new bullpen arms, both of whom only threw lightly from about 75 feet.
Burnett was throwing for the second time since being diagnosed with a stiff lower back last Monday, but the first time in about four days, and said he already feels good enough to get on the mound if needed, though the Angels will take their time with that.
"I'm good," Burnett said. "I won't be missing any [regular-season] games or anything, just taking my time. We have plenty of time."
Madson continued to feel good on Monday and is expected to throw again from the same distance on Tuesday, representing the first time he's thrown on back-to-back days since suffering a setback after a Feb. 1 bullpen session. The 32-year-old right-hander is all but ruled out for Opening Day, but the club still has no reason to think he won't be ready by mid-to-late April.
There's still no telling when he'll get on a mound again, though.
"I'd be surprised, at this level of his progression, if he doesn't move fairly quickly to a certain point," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's always going to be some plateaus you have to break through, but the early stages of a throwing program, we don't expect any setbacks. It's just tough to get a read until you start to [throw with more intensity]."
• Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto clocked Chad Cordero's fastball between 89 and 91 mph Monday, when the right-hander appeared against the Mariners in his first pro game since 2011. "I thought he looked great," Dipoto said of Cordero, who gave up a leadoff homer and then got three straight flyouts. Cordero is in Minor League camp this spring, trying to make a comeback after dealing with injuries.
• The Angels visited Children's First Academy of Tempe, Ariz., on Monday as part of their annual toy drive. Angels players donated between $4,500 and $5,000 for toys, which Travis Witherspoon, Michael Kohn and David Carpenter went out and bought for homeless and underprivileged kids. Mike Trout oversaw the annual project this spring.
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.