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Kendry Morales still not running close to 100%; will likely open season as Angels' DH

February 25, 2011 | 10:12 am

Morales_300 Mike Scioscia remains "confident" that Kendry Morales will be ready for the March 31 season opener in Kansas City, but it seems increasingly likely that the Angels first baseman, who is recovering from a broken leg, will be relegated to a designated hitter role.

Morales, who suffered a season-ending injury last May 29, is hitting from both sides of the plate with no problems and participating in fielding drills. But he is still not running anywhere near 100%.

Most of his running has been done on a special treadmill equipped with a harness that allows Morales to "de-weight" his body by 30%-40%. The Angels open Cactus League play against the Dodgers on Saturday, but it appears unlikely Morales will play in an exhibition game for at least a week.

"His time frame remains to be seen, but we're a long way from opening day," Scioscia said. "He won't need 80-90 at-bats to get ready. And even if he starts off in the spring as a DH, we can fold in the defensive end when he's comfortable with it."

Though Morales doesn't play an extremely demanding defensive position, spending nine innings on his feet in the field could put considerable stress on his lower left leg, which he broke while jumping into home plate after a game-winning home run.

If the Angels need the DH spot for Morales, who hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs in 2009, that would reduce playing time for Bobby Abreu, who is slotted to bat second.

"He has some work to do, but there's enough time for him to get ready for the season," Scioscia said of Morales. "He's made great strides since he's been here."

Just none of them with 100% of his body weight on the field.

-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.

 Photo: Kendry Morales. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

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