Angels’ Kendrys Morales is a longshot for opening day

Reporting from Scottsdale, Ariz.

Kendrys Morales has no doubt he will return to the form that made him one of baseball’s most prolific sluggers in 2009, when he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in.

“I am 100% confident of that,” the Angels first baseman said through a translator Thursday.

There is plenty of doubt as to when Morales, who sat out most of 2010 after suffering a fractured lower-left leg May 29, will return to that level.

Morales, who had surgery in June, still isn’t running full speed in a straight line, and until he does, he won’t run the bases. Until he can make the hard turn at first and run the bases aggressively, Morales won’t play in a spring game.


Angels reliever Scott Downs has a broken bone in his left big toe

The switch-hitter appears to be a longshot to play by Sunday, the deadline Manager Mike Scioscia has set for Morales to have any chance of opening the regular season with the Angels.

Morales is expected to open on the disabled list. When he is activated, he probably will spend a considerable amount of time at designated hitter.

“His window is narrowing, but it’s not shut,” Scioscia said. “If he breaks through some barriers and is where he needs to be, he could be ready by opening day. Once he runs full speed and is in games, we’ll be able to make a determination.”

Morales ran from home to first Tuesday, though not at full speed, and said he’s “getting better every day.” But he has not regained full mobility in his left ankle and has had to back off on some of his work because of stiffness and inflammation.

“One day, I feel 100%, and the next day I feel less than 100%,” Morales said. “It’s part of the rehab. I just want to be able to be at 100% consistently.”

Scioscia said at the winter meetings that Morales would be “full go” in spring training, but Morales is not disappointed about his seemingly slow progress.

“I’m not surprised or disappointed,” Morales said. “I know this is a difficult surgery and it takes time.”

Morales does not feel pressure to be ready for the March 31 season opener in Kansas City, and the Angels don’t want him to use that date as an artificial finish line to his rehab.

“I want to play opening day, but the rehab process is a delicate one, and I’m not going to push it,” Morales said. “If I’m not 100%, people will notice.”

There was some good news on the Morales front. Since arriving at camp in February, he has lost 14 pounds, dropping from 248 to 234. Though he’s still above his 2010 playing weight of 225, he’s moving in the right direction.

“I couldn’t move over the winter,” Morales said. “But I wasn’t going to starve. I figured I would address [my weight] later on.”

Minor setback

Morales’ probable replacement at first, Mark Trumbo, said the discomfort in his tight right groin has subsided, but he will be held out of games for three or four days as a precaution. Trumbo is hitting .340 with a team-leading five homers and 13 RBIs.

“He’s played a lot,” Scioscia said. “It won’t hurt him to take a little rest right now.”

Catcher Bobby Wilson, infielder Brandon Wood and second baseman Howie Kendrick will play or work out at first over the next few days, so the Angels can establish some depth at the position.

Short hops

Torii Hunter is the latest Angel to be stricken with flu-like symptoms. The right fielder did not work out Thursday, but he was not scheduled to play Thursday night against San Francisco.