Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/16/12
It turns out the toughest part of Kendrys Morales' comeback might still be ahead of him. After missing nearly two years while recovering from a fractured left ankle, Morales returned to the Angels' lineup to start the 2012 season. After a successful run in Cactus League play, Morales had five hits in his first seven at-bats this season including a four-hit game against the Kansas City Royals. Since that four-hit game on the second day of the season, Morales has dropped into a 1-for-23 slump with seven strikeouts in that time. He was not in the starting lineup Sunday night against the Yankees. "I know he's going to be fine," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Morales went 0 for 5 Saturday. "I think right now like a number of guys ... he's gotta get simple and he's maybe trying to do too many things in the batter's box. He's got to get simple and hit some line drives. He was doing that early in the season but got away from it a little bit lately." Morales' issues at this point do not seem physical or tied to the injured ankle. The challenge of returning to playing baseball at the highest level on a daily basis after missing almost two seasons is proving to be daunting. "I think he's fine (physically)," Scioscia said. "It's getting out here and competing on a daily basis again, re-acclimating to some pitches and pitchers he hadn't seen for awhile. I think he's expanding his zone a little bit which he did at times in '09 as well. At this time, he just draws a little more attention (because of his comeback). "His bat speed is there. His power is there. It's just a matter of him getting comfortable in the box." NOTES, QUOTES Wells clubs 250th homer of his career --OF Vernon Wells' solo home run in the fifth inning Saturday was the 250th of his career. That made the Angels and Yankees the only teams in Major League Baseball to each have four players with at least 250 career home runs. For the Angels, Albert Pujols, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Wells have at least 250 HRs. For the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have at least 250 homers each. --OF Torii Hunter was hitless in five plate appearances Sunday with three strikeouts for the second consecutive game. Hunter has just one hit in his past 12 at-bats and seven strikeouts in his past 11 plate appearances. "The last two games I've played have been pretty rough," Hunter said. "I'll get out of it. That's a fact." --2B Howie Kendrick had his second consecutive three-hit game Sunday, missing a cycle only when his drive over the wall in the eighth inning curled just foul down the right-field line. Kendrick is now a .345 (60 for 174) hitter in his career against the Yankees. That is the highest average against the Yankees of any active player (minimum 150 plate appearances). --1B Albert Pujols did not hit a home run in the Angels' first nine games this season (through Sunday). That is the longest homerless streak to start a season in Pujols' career. He is the only player in MLB history to hit 30 or more home runs in each of his first 11 seasons. --RHP Rich Thompson was designated for assignment after allowing four runs in 1 13 innings of the bullpen's meltdown in Minnesota on Thursday. The Angels have 10 days to trade, waive or release the 27-year-old Thompson who was 3-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 81 relief appearances for the Angels over parts of the past six seasons. --RHP Jerome Williams, who had been out with a left hamstring injury, came off the disabled list and started Sunday vs. the Yankees. He was excited to be making his season debut on Jackie Robinson Day, but his effort wasn't memorable. Williams gave up five runs on five hits in 2 23 innings. --LHP Brad Mills lasted just one day in the majors. He was called up from Class AAA Salt Lake on Saturday, as the Angels needed to add a lefty reliever with Scott Downs nursing an ankle injury. Mills didn't get into a game, then was sent down Sunday when the Angels needed a roster spot for the return of RHP Jerome Williams from the disabled list. BY THE NUMBERS: 5.23 -- ERA of Angels starting pitchers through the first nine games of the season. QUOTE TO NOTE: "No disrespect -- I look at it as just another city, another stadium. I know there's a lot of history there, a lot of history in the old stadium. I don't want to disrespect the great players who played there. But, to me, I have to separate that stuff from what I need to do to prepare myself to play this game." -- Angels 1B Albert Pujols on playing at Yankee Stadium for the first time as an Angel.
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