Morales is said by Angels people to be improving and at about "90 percent," but they've also noted that the last 10 percent is the toughest. He isn't ready for game action and is wearing support on the lower leg.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had been expressing some optimism about Morales returning for the opener, and the word generally had been that he could DH if he isn't ready to play first base. But reality seems to be taking hold in recent days as progress has been slow despite Morales' diligent rehab work.
With Morales' chances to make the Opening Day roster close to nil at this point, the Angels could turn to power-hitting prospect Mark Trumbo, who has two home runs this spring after hitting 36 at Triple-A Salt Lake City last year. Trumbo was 1-for-15 in a brief call-up with the Angels last year. Perennial third base prospect Brandon Wood would be a long-shot candidate.
The Angels' batting order is well-stocked in the middle with the importing of Vernon Wells, but the team's offense went downhill after Morales' injury last season. He injured the leg in a freak accident at home plate, landing awkwardly on it after hitting a walk-off grand slam. Teammates mobbed Morales as he touched the plate, but he had to be helped of the field. Surgery followed.
Morales was hitting .290 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs when he was hurt, which followed a breakout 2009 season in which he hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 RBIs. He was second to MVP Joe Mauer in the American League in slugging percentage at .569 in 2009.