- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.com
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales is getting closer to returning to game action, but said Thursday that he's still not sure he'll be ready for the team's season opener March 31.
"I want to start Opening Day, but at the same time I realize that the rehab process is a delicate one so I'm not going to push anything," Morales said through an interpreter. "People would notice if I'm not 100 percent, so that's not something I want to do."
Morales is more than 10 months into the rehabilitation process following surgery on the broken left ankle he suffered in a freak accident celebrating a walk-off grand slam on May 29.
He said he was neither disappointed nor surprised with the pace of his recovery.
"I'm not surprised or disappointed at all," he said. "I know this is a difficult surgery. People that know about it wouldn't be surprised either."
Morales has resumed hitting and fielding, but hasn't played in a spring training game because he can't run the bases. On Tuesday, he ran full speed from home to first, but he did not round the base.
After three days of pushing himself hard, he felt soreness and experienced some inflammation in the ankle, so he's backed off a bit the last few days.
"Part of the process is that one day you feel 100 percent and then the next day, you feel less than 100 percent," he said. "I want to be able to be 100 percent consistently."
Lack of flexibility and range of motion seem to be the biggest issues, not pain.
"I really feel like the flexibility factor is not there yet," he explained. "But I'm getting the strength back the more I do. The mobility, the range of motion is not there. And there's a little inflammation, that's what's not 100 percent."
Morales said that hitting has been the easiest skill to resume, followed by fielding, and then running. He has lost 14 pounds since the start of camp, dropping his weight to 234.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said that Morales would need to start playing in spring training games by Sunday in order to have enough time to get ready for Opening Day.
Morales knows of the deadline, but said he simply has to evaluate how he feels each day before committing to a return.
"If I feel good, I'll play Sunday," he said. "I want to play, but No. 1, it's not my decision. And, No. 2, I don't want to go out there if I'm not 100 percent."
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales is getting closer to returning to game action, but said Thursday that he's still not sure he'll be ready for the team's season opener March 31.