It's hard to imagine a hitter who can make Vladimir Guerrero look like a picture of patience, but Vernon Wells seems determined to try.
The Angels left fielder entered Monday night's game having seen 287 pitches in 94 plate appearances this season, an average of 3.05 that ranked dead last among 187 major league players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.
The two players just above him on that list are Guerrero, the notorious hacker who now plays in Baltimore, and Cleveland second baseman Orlando Cabrera, who played with Guerrero on the Angels' free-swinging 2005 club that had as much trouble scoring runs as this current Angels outfit.
"I've always been that way," said Wells, who entered Monday with a .169 batting average, one homer and four runs batted in. "Pitchers are taught to get ahead early. My father always told me that if I get my pitch, take a hack at it."
The approach has always worked for Wells, who hit .273 with 31 homers and 88 runs batted in for Toronto last season despite seeing an average of only 3.24 pitches per plate appearance.
His season high for pitches per plate appearance is 3.54 in 2007. Wells hit a career-low .245 with 16 homers and 80 RBIs that year.
"There's a time and a place for it," Wells said. "You have to know the situation and who's on the mound. If it's late in the game and you're down a couple of runs, you don't want to be too aggressive. Or if the guy is a little wild, that's not that time."
Wells has a career average of .331 with 56 homers and 159 RBIs when swinging at the first pitch, but when he's struggling like he has this season, he looks more impatient than aggressive. In his first two at-bats Sunday, he made two outs on three pitches.
"It's great when you're going well," Wells said. "It's not so great when you're not going well."
Morales hits snag
Some days, Kendrys Morales runs in a straight line, others he runs curves, but the first baseman has run neither at full speed, preventing him from clearing a major hurdle in his rehabilitation from a broken left ankle that has sidelined him for almost a year.
"His progress has been slow," Manager Mike Scioscia acknowledged. "He's having problems getting full explosion when he runs."
Once Morales runs the bases at full speed, with no setbacks, he will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
But Morales, who hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs in 2009, seems no closer to playing in a game today than he did on April 12, when he resumed running for the first time since mid-March.
"There are setbacks and plateaus," Scioscia said. "He's due to break through a plateau."
The Angels, looking to bolster their offense and provide coverage for injured infielder Maicer Izturis, recalled infielder Alexi Amarista from triple A on Monday and optioned seldom-used outfielder Reggie Willits back to Salt Lake.
The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Amarista, whose father was murdered during a home-invasion robbery in his native Venezuela last November, hit .455 (25 for 55) with two home runs, six doubles and 16 RBIs in 16 games for Salt Lake.
Izturis was scratched from Sunday's game because of tightness in his left hamstring. He was available to pinch-hit Monday and probably won't start again until Friday, at the earliest.