Angels Notes: Morales runs on field, Wells out of lineup, Willits to start
While the Texas Rangers lost their best hitter, Josh Hamilton, to an arm fracture that will sideline the slugger for six to eight weeks, the Angels got some encouraging news about their best hitter Tuesday.
Kendrys Morales, out since last May because of a broken left ankle, ran on a field, wearing spikes, for the first time since early March. Though he didn't run at full speed, it was a significant step for the slugger who hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 runs batted in in 2009 but played only 51 games in 2010.
"It was baby steps," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was less than 100% effort. He's working on his stride, getting out there in his spikes. Hopefully, as the week goes on, the intensity will pick up. When he's running full speed and can get on the bases, he'll be ready to go out and play."
Left fielder Vernon Wells, who is hitting .091 (4 for 44) with 12 strikeouts in his first 10 games with his new team, is not in the lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians, who have won eight games in a row.
"It's a mental day off," Scioscia said of Wells. "Every hitter has rough spots. A lot of guys have some four-for-40s in their history, but when you're with a new team, there's a lot of attention on it. The reality is he's trying to find his timing, and it's creating some mis-hits. But he'll find it. I have no doubt about it."
Reggie Willits, who opened the season on the disabled list because of a left calf strain, was activated after his minor league rehabilitation stint and will start in left field in place of Wells.
The last pitcher to do that was Dick Harley for the 1905 Boston Beaneaters.
Scioscia also announced the Tyler Chatwood, a 21-year-old right-hander who gave up four runs in five innings of his big-league debut against Cleveland Monday night, would remain in the rotation and start Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.
Matt Palmer will go to the bullpen for the remainder of the week, but the Angels will need both starters, Chatwood and Palmer, next week.
The Indians lineup: CF Michael Brantley, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, C Carlos Santana, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Orlando Cabrera, LF Travis Buck, 1B Matt LaPorta, 3B Jack Hannahan.
The Angels lineup: SS Maicer Izturis, 2B Howie Kendrick, DH Bobby Abreu, RF Torii Hunter, 3B Alberto Callaspo, 1B Mark Trumbo, LF Reggie Willits, C Jeff Mathis, CF Peter Bourjos.
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Kendrys Morales tosses back a hat he autographed prior to the Angels' home opener against Toronto on Friday. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times