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Kendrys Morales Returns To Angels Lineup For 1st Time In 22 Months

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Kendrys Morales and the Angels have been waiting for this day for a long time.

Morales, the Angels first-baseman-designated hitter, made his first appearance on Thursday since he got hurt during an ill-fated celebration at home plate in May 2010.

He had two hits in three trips to the plate in the Angels’ 7-4 win over the Royals.

“Everything felt good,” Morales said through an interpreter.

“Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Lorenzo Cain hit his fourth spring homer for the Royals, a two-run shot to left off Jered Weaver that cleared the ballpark in the second inning.

Morales received a warm ovation from Angels fans in his first at-bat.

He bounced a seeing-eye single to right field off Royals starter Danny Duffy. He then ran and sliding safely into third on Bobby Abreu’s double to left field.

“I felt good and you could see it when I ran to third,” Morales said.

Morales popped out in his next at-bat, but singled batting left-handed later in the game.

“It’s what we expected,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s running well. He slid a couple of times.”

Morales hit 34 homers with 108 RBIs in a breakthrough 2009 season.

He was off to another strong start in 2010 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 51 games when he broke his left ankle while celebrating a walk-off homer by jumping onto home plate.

With his return to the lineup along with the free-agency acquisition of Albert Pujols, the Angels possess one of the majors’ best lineups to go along with one of the best starting rotations.

That rotation is led by Weaver, the likely opening day starter, who was hit hard for the second time in his past three starts.

The Royals got to Weaver for nine hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

“He gave a lot of counts back today,” Scioscia said. “When he’s on, that doesn’t happen.”

Weaver was second in the 2011 American League Cy Young voting after he went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA.

On Thursday, he said he continued to fight with his command of the fastball, but was not worried.

“It’s spring training,” Weaver said. “These numbers don’t show up on the back of your baseball card.”

Weaver was coming off a strong outing in which he allowed one run in four innings against Milwaukee on March 17. Prior to that start, Weaver gave up three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Dodgers on March 12.

“I felt really good,” Weaver said. “The results weren’t there but it’s a step in the right direction. I just wanted to work on my fastball command. Mentally everything is fine.”

Erick Aybar went 3 for 3. Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells also had two hits as the Angels finished with 15.

Duffy, 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA in 20 starts in 2011, is fighting for a spot in the Royals’ rotation. He allowed 10 hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings in his third spring start.

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