During a 4-1 Cactus League victory over the Indians, Morales homered for the first time since his ill-fated celebration at home plate 664 days earlier. Since his walk-off grand slam against the Mariners on May 29, 2010 -- a blast the ended with a severely fractured left ankle due to an awkward landing at the plate -- two surgeries have kept Morales sidelined.
"I think I've adjusted pretty quickly considering I've been out for a couple of years," Morales said in Spanish. "I've been working hard every day and I feel good."
This spring, Morales has not only finally resumed baseball activities, but he has returned to the Angels' lineup as a DH. For Friday's game, he was slotted into the cleanup spot behind first baseman Albert Pujols, who signed a blockbuster contract over the offseason to suit up for Los Angeles. It marked the first time this spring the pair appeared back to back in the batting order.
Morales' blast against Cleveland came off Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who has a spot secured in the Tribe's rotation. Tomlin turned in five innings in his longest spring outing for the Indians (6-12-3) and ended the evening with two runs allowed on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk. The Angels (11-8-1) also scored a run on a fielder's choice groundout from left fielder Alexi Amarista in the fourth.
"I'm very happy with the way Tomlin was able to get his work in," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Five innings, 75 pitches. He threw the ball well. I think this, combined with the last outing where he had a lot of bloopers, it says that his pitches are getting there, that he's missing the barrel of the bat. So, we're happy with the performance he had tonight."
Cleveland broke through for one run in the third inning, when Jason Donald led off with a double against L.A. right-hander Matt Shoemaker. Later in the frame, Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo brought Donald home with a sacrifice fly to center field. Shoemaker was charged with one run on five hits over five innings of work.
In the seventh inning, the Angels added two runs against Indians lefty David Huff -- a fifth starter candidate. Andrew Romine led off with a single and later came around to score on a triple by Halos second baseman Maicer Izturis. Bobby Abreu followed with a chopper to second baseman Jason Kipnis, who bobbled the ball, allowing pinch-runner Chevy Clarke to score.
Up next for Angels: The Angels will have their first of back-to-back meetings against the division-rival Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., on Saturday, kicking off what many believe will be a year-long tug-of-war between the two American League West clubs. After watching the Rangers make the World Series each of the last two years, the Angels signed Albert Pujols and former Texas ace C.J. Wilson this offseason, with the Rangers landing Japanese sensation Yu Darvish. Ervin Santana will start Saturday's 1:05 p.m. PT game and will be the only starter pitching in the two contests. Wilson, Darvish and Matt Harrison will pitch in Minor League games over the weekend.