Kendrys Morales played in a major league game Thursday for the first time since fracturing his left ankle while celebrating a 10th-inning walkoff home run against the Mariners on May 29, 2010. And it went about as well as such a thing can go.
Morales punched a single through the right side of the infield in his first at-bat, popped out to first base in his second at-bat, then laced a single to center field in his third at-bat. The Angels won 7-4 over the Royals, improving to 10-8 in Cactus League play (not that anyone should care).
Morales will be in the Angels’ starting lineup again on Friday afternoon and should be allowed to make regular appearances in Cactus League games until the opening of the 2012 regular season.
If he’s able to avoid setbacks, the 28-year-old Cuban slugger will start at designated hitter this year for Anaheim. He earned MVP votes in 2009 after batting .306/.355/.569 with 34 home runs and 108 RBI.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.