After playing six years under an assumed name, Angels first baseman Kendry Morales is getting his identity back.
His first name, it turns out, is Kendrys with an “s” on the end.
“They’ve been spelling it wrong,” Morales insisted after batting practice Wednesday.
In official documents, such as his Cuban birth certificate and manifests the Angels must file for their charter flights, Morales’ name has always been spelled Kendrys Morales Rodriguez. But when the Angels signed him to a free-agent deal in 2004, he told then-general manager Bill Stoneman he wanted to drop the “s.”
“He was Kendry,” Stoneman said. “That’s what we were told.”
Adding to the confusion is the fact that most Cuban journalists, including those at Granma, the official Communist party newspaper, have always left the “s” off as well.
But sometime this winter Morales decided to go back to his birth name. So when he placed an order with Rawlings for first baseman’s gloves this winter, he asked that his name be stitched into the leather as Kendrys. The clubhouse staff, thinking it was a typo, checked with Morales, who told the team when he reported to spring training last month that he wanted his “s” back.
As for when Morales’ rehabilitation from a broken ankle will allow him to get back on the field, the Angels remain uncertain.
Scott Kazmir struggled through another shaky outing, giving up five hits, four walks, committing a wild pitch and making a throwing error in three-plus innings in the Angels’ 8-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday.
Yet Angels Manager Mike Scioscia considered the 65-pitch performance a positive one, which should tell you all you need to know about Kazmir’s spring.
“In some ways, Kaz made some steps forward,” he said of the lefty, who allowed just an unearned run. “It just took him a while to get going. That consistency we’re still looking for has to come. But I think in the third inning, about the last 10 pitches, he found something in his delivery because he was in synch and the ball was coming out hotter with better command.”
The Angels have four players — pitchers Rich Thompson and Jason Bulger, catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Brandon Wood — who are out of minor league options, meaning if the team tries to send them down to the minors, the players must first pass through waivers, giving every other team a chance to claim them.
And that possibility will definitely affect the way Scioscia sets his opening day roster.
With three off days in the first 15 days of the season, Scioscia said the team could probably get through the first three weeks with just 11 pitchers. That would allow the team to keep both Wood and rookie Mark Trumbo as an insurance policy if Morales and his bad ankle are less than 100% coming out of spring training.
Wilson and Bulger are both likely to make the team under any circumstances. Thompson, however, is on the bubble and any reduction to the pitching staff could cost him a job. Putting someone on the disabled list for opening day would create another option.
“If somebody’s banged up at the end [of spring training] and on the DL we might have the option of being at 11 [pitchers] at the start of the season,” Scioscia said.