Angels' Morales improving after second surgery, but no timetable for return
Four months after undergoing a second season-ending surgery on his left ankle, Kendrys Morales is walking vigorously on a treadmill, lifting weights and undergoing physical therapy in Arizona, but the Angels slugger has no timetable to resume running or baseball activities.
Morales, who joined the Angels this week for the first time since he had scar tissue and debris removed from, and a bone graft performed on, the ankle, is confident he will be ready to return for the 2012 season but was not about to make any predictions.
"The doctors will determine my schedule--I don't know that," Morales, speaking through a translator, said when asked about his winter timetable. "My goal is to be ready to go by opening day, but I haven't played in almost two years."
Morales, who hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in in 2009, originally broke the ankle on May 29, 2010, when he jumped on home plate in celebration of a walk-off grand slam against the Seattle Mariners.
The switch-hitter had surgery, in which six screws were inserted into the bone, and missed the remainder of the 2010 season. The Angels were confident Morales would return in time for the 2011 season, and Morales took batting practice and participated in fielding drills during spring training.
"From my first surgery to this one, I feel a lot of improvement," Morales said. "The biggest thing is the mental side, having to understand what it takes to get ready."
Could Morales have tried to do too much too soon after the first surgery?
"No, I don't think so," he said. "We were on the right track, but my body didn't respond. With the loose cartilage and the debris in there, the bone didn't heal."
Morales has struggled at times to control his weight, but he said he weighs 242 pounds right now, which is about what he weighed in the middle of spring training. Manager Mike Scioscia said Morales "is bouncing around more than we anticipated--he's walking very well."
Even if Morales, who finished fifh in American League MVP voting in 2009, returns at full strength in 2012, he knows it will be challenging trying to hit major league pitching for the first time in almost two years.
"Obviously, the absence is going to affect me," Morales said. "But before the season, I plan to have 100 at-bats [in spring training], so I should be ready."
-- Mike DiGiovanna
Photo: Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales hits a two-run home run against the Detroit Tigers in April 2010. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times