Kendrys Morales is still a major question mark nearly two years removed from breaking his lower left leg while jumping onto home plate following a game-winning-home grand slam, but he did get some good news after visiting his doctor in Colorado earlier this week.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Morales was cleared to “ramp up” some baseball activities. While he was previously jogging on a “de-weighted” treadmill and hitting off a tee in Arizona, he has already begun running under his own body weight. The real test will come when Morales begins running the bases aggressively, but this is a very positive early sign.
The Angels tendered Morales a contract this offseason, despite the fact that he hasn’t played in a professional game since May 29, 2010. The 28-year-old switch-hitter figures to make around $4 million in his second year of arbitration, but the benefits are obviously huge if he can bounce back to his 2009 form. Mark Trumbo is behind in his rehab from foot surgery, but the Angels still have enough depth that they can afford to bring Morales along slowly.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.