Morales, Trumbo in Opening Night lineup

Morales, Trumbo in Opening Night lineup

Morales, Trumbo in Opening Night lineup
ANAHEIM -- One of the recurring questions from winter through spring involved Angels sluggers Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo. How would manager Mike Scioscia manage to mix and match and fit all three first basemen by trade into the same lineup?

On Opening Night at Angel Stadium, with Angels ace Jered Weaver taking on Royals southpaw Bruce Chen, here they were on the lineup card: Pujols, batting third, at first; Morales, batting sixth, as designated hitter; Trumbo, seventh in the order, at third base.

Trumbo went 1-for-3 with a run scored, while committing two errors, in the Angels' 5-0 win over the Royals on Friday. Morales went 1-for-3.

Pujols has arrived at great expense with the mission of leading the Angels -- absent from the Fall Classic since 2002 -- to where he twice drove his Cardinals: a World Series celebration.

Morales, fifth in the 2009 American League MVP balloting, is back in the lineup for the first time since badly fracturing his left ankle on May 29, 2010, requiring two surgeries.

Trumbo, second in the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year balloting as the club leader in homers and RBIs, has handled his cram course at third capably enough to earn the Opening Night nod at his new position.

"I always had positive thoughts," Morales said. "I thought that if I worked hard enough I could get back to where I used to be. I don't feel exactly like I did in 2010, but if I keep working every day, I think I can get there."

Trumbo, angular for a third baseman at 6-foot-5, had the anticipated growing pains in his move across the diamond but clearly was smoothing out rough edges as the spring progressed.

He has a strong arm and the lateral quickness for the position. The challenge, as Scioscia put it, is "going to be a confidence level. What you want is a third baseman making routine plays, a step and a half to each side, and, hopefully, Mark will settle in there."

Hitting .328 with six homers, Trumbo crushed balls all spring -- in part, perhaps, because his focus on his new position released some of the pressure the intensely driven athlete tends to put on himself at the plate.

"I think I've made most of the plays," Trumbo said. "I'd like to make a few more, of course, but in the grand scheme of things, I've been over there a month and a half. I expect a lot of myself. Part of it stems from my pitching background and knowing how hard you work as a pitcher to get those outs. When you get a good hitter to roll over on a ball, you want the play to be made."

Morales quickly found his stroke this spring, hitting .367 in 30 at-bats with a pair of homers.

"It's going to be very important to us," Scioscia said, referring to the left-handed balance the switch-hitting Morales brings to a predominantly right-handed lineup.

More formidable from the left side throughout his career, Morales figures to bat fourth against right-handers and sixth against lefties.

"They're putting a lot of confidence in me," Morales said, "putting me up there considering the amount of time I've missed. It kind of pushes me harder."