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Where will Kendry Morales bat for the Angels this season?

February 18, 2010 |  2:46 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Manager Mike Scioscia was very reluctant to bat Kendry Morales in the third or fourth spots last season, in part because he didn't want to heap any more pressure on the first baseman, who, in his first full big-league season, hit .306 with a team-high 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in.

Morales spent most of 2009 in the fifth and sixth spots, hitting third once and cleanup seven times. But with former cleanup batter Vladimir Guerrero signing with Texas this winter, Morales will probably move into the third or fourth spot this season, though Scioscia would not commit to it on the first day of spring-training camp Thursday.

"His potential is to be a three-four guy in a championship-caliber lineup," Scioscia said. "Whether that happens this year, I don't know, but when you're talking about that type of hitter, you're talking about a select group. Not 50 guys. It's a small amount."

Morales, a switch-hitter, will be more of a marked man this season, a hitter opponents will pitch more carefully to and one who will probably feel some pressure to repeat his stellar 2009 season.

"There is always going to be spotlights on guys who do what Kendry did last year, but Kendry is a special player, and I don't expect anything but the same approach and tremendous production from him," Scioscia said. "He's gone through some things, gotten away from things, maybe gotten his swing too big at times, but he understands he just has to play his game."

--Mike DiGiovanna