Kendry Morales was smiling and laughing at his locker in the Angels' clubhouse Wednesday -- which marked a big step forward for the slugging first baseman, who has had a difficult spring so far.
Morales missed two days of workouts earlier this week with flu-like symptoms, including a fever of 103 degrees. But he pronounced himself healed Wednesday.
"I feel good. Everything's good," Morales said in Spanish. "I'm going to be able to do everything today."
Everything, however, remains a relative term for Morales. The Angels still aren't ready to let him run freely on the ankle he broke last May, limiting his cardio workouts to a treadmill. As he runs in the gym, Morales wears a harness, which supports about 20% of his body weight -- a process Angels' Manager Mike Scioscia called "deweighting."
Morales was cleared to hit and do some light fielding work as well but it remains uncertain when he'll be able to play in a Cactus League exhibition.
"We want to get him totally free on body weight and then he’s going to start to get out there and do some more running," Scioscia said. "And they’re also experimenting with his wrap on his ankle. A lot of the restriction is because they have him wrapped heavily. They want to release that restriction as they move on."
The Angels need a healthy Morales to make their offense go. The switch-hitter batted .306, slugged 34 home runs and drove in 108 runs in his only full big-league season in 2009. He was on pace to match those power numbers last year before sustaining the season-ending injury after just 51 games.
And the longer he remains sidelined this spring, the greater the possibility the Angels will open the season with Morales on the disabled list.
Morales wasn't the only Angel who stayed back in Tempe when the team traveled an hour up the freeway to Surprise, Ariz., Wednesday to play the Texas Rangers. Starting middle infielders Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick and starting outfielders Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter also remained behind to work on cutoff plays.
"This is all trying to get this integrated," Scioscia said. "So this is an important drill for them."
-- Kevin Baxter in Surprise, Ariz.
Photo: Kendry Morales. Credit: Charlie Riedel /Associated Press.