Kendrys Morales is ready for a big step forward.
According to beat writer Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels slugger told reporters in spring camp Wednesday that he is planning to begin running the bases next week.
Morales has progressed recently from straight-line jogging to taking zig-zag cuts, and has experienced no issues with the ankle that he fractured during a walkoff home run celebration nearly two years ago.
He’s on pace to be nearly 100 percent by the start of the 2012 regular season.
“Every day I’m feeling better,” Morales said through an interpreter. “My strength is getting better, I’m getting better push off my legs, and I’ve had no next-day soreness.”
Morales will serve as Anaheim’s primary designated hitter this season if his left ankle cooperates.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.