Morales homers as Angels beat Indians 4-1
GOODYEAR, Ariz.—Kendrys Morales swung hard and connected solidly. More importantly: He crossed home plate gently.
"It's been almost two years since I hit a home run and it kind of lifted my spirits a little bit," Morales said through an interpreter.
Morales, batting left-handed, crushed a pitch from Josh Tomlin high into the dark Arizona night and over the stands in right-center field. It was his first homer since May 29, 2010, a grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning that beat Seattle. He broke his left ankle by jumping onto home plate in celebration and missed the rest of that season and all of 2011.
Indians non-roster infielder Cristian Guzman left in the first inning with a right hamstring injury.
"He felt a little bit of a pull and we'll see how he is tomorrow," Indians manager Manny Acta said after Guzman pulled up after rounding second base, advancing on a hit by Shin-Soo Choo.
Morales said he feels very good. The switch-hitter had 34 homers with 108 RBIs in 2009. He could add even more production to a potent Angels lineup that now features slugger Albert Pujols.
"Whoever hits around Pujols is going to get a lot of pitches to hit," Morales said, smiling at the thought.
Morales said he has made a few adjustments batting lefty, because he pushes off the injured leg.
"But I am feeling so much better, I don't think it is going to be that much," he said. "Just working every day, I will get better."
Morales' leg passed a test in the fourth, though his pride suffered a bit when he got caught drifting off third base for a double play.
"It was not the coach's fault," Morales said. "He told me to stay. I thought I could go, then went back. I felt nothing in the leg. I was fine.
"That's what counts in this game, is to be 100 percent healthy. All nine players who open the season on the Angels are going to be 100 percent. I'm ready to go."
Tomlin said he feels closer to being ready after allowing two runs and six hits over five innings.
"Absolutely better, compared to my previous three outings," said Tomlin, who lowered his ERA from 10.50 to 8.47. "I was able to get stretched out and throw some strikes."
Angels starter Mike Shoemaker allowed five hits and one run over five innings.
Notes: 2B Maicer Izturis had three of the Angels' nine hits. ... Players from both teams lined each foul line in the middle of the second inning and gave emotional high-fives to a cancer patient who rounded the bases on a "home run for life" as fans stood and applauded. ... The late Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller's widow, Anne, watched from the stands. She flew in from Ohio to attend games this weekend. ... Indians CF Michael Brantley (hamstring) and 3B Jack Hannahan (sore back) are both expected to return to play in a few games. Acta said he wants to give both starts as many at-bats as possible to get ready for the season. ... Acta said All-Star SS Asdrubal Cabrera will play Saturday after missing a couple days with a sore throwing arm. "If this was the season, he would have been playing," Acta said.