Morales' first homer important in many ways

Morales' first homer important in many ways

Morales' first homer important in many ways
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Before Kendrys Morales went deep against the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark on Friday night, it had been 664 days since the last time he watched one fly (and everyone knows how that turned out). This one came in a Spring Training game, so it may not have counted in the stat sheet.

But it counted in so many other ways.

"It's been almost two years since connecting on one," said Morales, whose last home run was the May 29, 2010, walk-off grand slam that broke his left ankle and halted his promising baseball career. "I felt pretty good mentally. I feel like it lifted my spirits a little bit."

Playing in only his second Cactus League game, Morales found himself in the cleanup spot behind Albert Pujols, which is where the Angels expect him to bat when the games start counting. In his first at-bat, from the left side of the plate, Morales took righty Josh Tomlin out to right-center field and trotted around the bases.

This time, there was no stomping on home plate.

The 28-year-old switch-hitter singled to the right side in his second plate appearance, then struck out as a right-handed hitter his third time up. He is now 4-for-6 in his first two Cactus League games and is expected to suit up for his third straight when the Angels travel to Surprise to face the Rangers on Saturday.

Morales feels his timing is a little better from the left side because naturally he sees more right-handed pitching, but feels it's only a matter of time before he catches up from the right side.

"The only thing I know is that I've returned pretty well considering the time I've missed," Morales said.

The recovering slugger had a bit of a scary moment while on third base in the fourth inning, when he went to tag up on a shallow fly ball to center field. He had to stop quickly on his recovering left ankle and was then tagged out with minimal effort. Morales saw the stop sign from third-base coach Dino Ebel but saw Jason Donald playing back and thought he could score.

He thought wrong.

"The fans saw it kind of strange that I stopped like that," Morales said. "But [the left ankle] didn't bother me at all."