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Monday, February 14, 2011
Kendry Morales has tightness in ankle

By Mark Saxon

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Angels slugger Kendry Morales said he still feels tightness in his surgically repaired left ankle when he runs and that he's not certain he'll be ready on Opening Day.

"If I'm not ready, I'm mentally prepared for that situation," Morales said. "I already know that could be a possibility."

Doctors inserted six screws into Morales' fractured left ankle last June, shortly after he injured his leg while jumping onto home plate after a game-winning grand slam on May 29. Morales said he could run at "50 to 60 percent," before he arrived in Arizona for spring training, but the Angels have put an end to his running program for now.

Morales said he feels no pain when he takes batting practice.

The team is banking heavily on Morales' return to form. He led the Angels with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs in 2009, when he finished fifth in MVP balloting. The Angels added veteran outfielder Vernon Wells in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last month, but they were otherwise thwarted in their efforts to improve the No. 19 offense in baseball.

Team doctors examined Morales last week in Anaheim and manager Mike Scioscia said the switch-hitting first baseman's long-term prognosis is "very good." Morales said he gained about 10 pounds this winter in part because he was barred from running until January. He has a six-inch vertical scar on his ankle.

"In the short range, we're going to ease him into what he needs to do," Scioscia said.

Scioscia said he has "no doubt" that Morales will be ready on Opening Day, March 31.

"We're very comfortable with that time frame, that he'll be 100 percent by the start of the season," Scioscia said.

The eventual return of Morales and the Angels' acquisition of Wells are among the reasons Scioscia said things are looking up for his team.

"We're a better team now than we were at any point last year," Scioscia said.

"It would have been [a disappointing offseason] if we weren't able to get Wells," Scioscia said. "It's critical for us to get Kendry Morales into the middle of the lineup. ... I'm very happy with the way we're lining up contingent on a couple of things, Kendry is one of those."

Mark Saxon covers the Angels for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.