Kendrys Morales close to making Cactus League debut

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We’ve heard nothing but good things about Kendrys Morales so far this spring. That’s quite a contrast from this time last year, which Craig can vouch for first-hand. And while Morales has yet to make his Cactus League debut, he’s certainly moving in the right direction.

According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Morales hopes to get into games during the week of March 18. He also notes that the 28-year-old hasn’t reported any soreness, swelling or pain in his surgically-repaired ankle.

Morales hasn’t played in a professional game since fracturing his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate following a game-winning grand slam on May 29, 2010. The 28-year-old switch-hitter owns a .284/.336/.502 batting line and an .838 OPS in the majors, so he could provide a major boost to the middle of the Angels’ lineup if he can return to form.

While we’re on the subject of Angels’ players who are rehabbing from injury, Mark Trumbo is slated to start at third base and bat cleanup this afternoon against the Giants. He played a couple innings at the hot corner on Wednesday, but these will be his first at-bats in a major league game since being shut down with a stress fracture in his right foot last September.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.