Morales hit .294 for the season and .304 in the second half, busting out with a .483 August, when he produced 14 hits. The 24-year-old native of Cuba was a .311 hitter against right-handers compared to .241 against lefties.
What impressed Scioscia most about Morales was the way he learned to relax, stay back and drive the ball the opposite way, getting half of his 10 doubles on shots to left and left-center. That, the manager surmised, could be useful in Fenway with The Green Monster always lurking off a pitcher's right shoulder.
"That was important to his development when he turned his year around in Triple-A [Salt Lake]," Scioscia said. "He has a great ability to [hit to the opposite field]. He's a tough out when he can stick the ball up the middle and to left-center.
"If Kendry can stay within himself, he's got enough power to get it elevated to left field. You try not to do too much; you can't force it. He has to fight that."
Morales gives the Angels three switch-hitters in the lineup, along with leadoff man Chone Figgins and No. 5 hitter Maicer Izturis. Figgins moved to center field with Guerrero reclaiming right, leaving Reggie Willits on the bench.
Guerrero hasn't been in right field since inflammation in his right triceps on Sept. 5 forced him into the DH role. The club's AL MVP candidate said he prefers to play in the field, having enjoyed playing the total game since breaking into the Majors in Montreal.
"It feels like home," Guerrero said.
Izzy gets the call: The choice of Izturis over Willits involved defensive considerations, as well as Izturis' team-best .406 average this season with runners in scoring position. Izturis hit .304 in the second half and .333 in September.
Figgins was the regular third baseman for most of the season, but Izturis was brilliant there over the first month of the season with Figgins sidelined. Izturis committed only four errors all year, leading the team in fielding percentage at third and at second.
"Izzy played third in the first game, also," Scioscia said. "So he's right now our primary third baseman. He brings a good defensive presence to our field that we need -- and he's been one of our top clutch hitters. So we definitely want to keep him in the lineup."
Anderson passes test:
The infection in his right eye has kept it in a diminished condition, but Garret Anderson remained in the cleanup spot for the Angels after going hitless with two strikeouts in Game 1 against Josh Beckett.
"It looks puffier and puffier, but his vision's getting better and better," Scioscia said. "He had an exam today, and his vision's fine.
"I talked to him about making sure he was OK. He assured me he was fine to see. I think his vision is fine, or he wouldn't be playing."
Anderson has admitted to some discomfort with the eye but maintains he sees clearly enough to track fastballs and fly balls.
As for his struggles against Beckett, Anderson said: "With the movement he had, and the way he was hitting corners, it wouldn't matter how many eyes you have."
Figgy comfortable in center:
Moving from third to right to center is nothing new for Figgins. That's how he built his career with the Angels, playing wherever they pointed him with passion.
"In '03, when they put me out there for the first time," Figgins said, "I had no idea what I was going to do. I didn't even play the outfield in Spring Training. I was backing up at second base and shortstop.
Be a part of the ALDS Mailbag
|Who's going to win this series? Who's the best player? Why'd the manager make that move? If game stories and features aren't enough for you and you want more, e-mail MLB.com's Mychael Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. After the game, before it, even while the action is going on. Send in your question (make sure the subject line contains ALDS Mailbag), and Urban will answer selected queries in a mailbag right here on MLB.com.|
"I don't have any problem playing out there. It's baseball, man. Just go play."
Figgins played 44 games in center in 2003, 54 games in '04, 50 in '05. In 2006, he became the club's regular center fielder, playing 96 games. He has a .986 career fielding percentage in center, with eight errors in 244 games.
No fan of schedule:
The Angels, a rhythm team that tries to build momentum offensively and run with it, aren't accustomed to playing three games in five days. But that's what the ALDS schedule demands, with Game 3 set for Sunday after a travel day on Saturday.
"It's not ideal," Scioscia said. "It doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense. It feels like we've been in Boston for a month with the days off. But getting back on West Coast time is going to help a little bit."
Up next: Sunday's Game 3 matches Jered Weaver (13-7, 3.91 ERA) against Curt Schilling (9-8, 3.87) at 12:07 p.m. PT.