ANAHEIM -- Red flares shot up from Angel Stadium's renowned outfield rocks as Kendrys Morales circled the bases for the first time in nearly two years. Fans rose to their feet, knowing they had just seen his first home run since the gruesome ankle injury that derailed his rising career. Albert Pujols clapped and pumped his fist as he approached home plate.
Things were less hectic inside Morales' head.
"I didn't think back on 2010 at all," Morales said following the Angels' 6-0 win against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night. "But it was great to get it out of the way."
Morales had homered in spring training, though the serene Arizona setting hardly compares to what he experienced when he gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in the first inning Monday. He had been putting together good swings but hadn't yet been able to elevate a pitch. Morales finally got a pitch he could drive and, since it was early in the ballgame, there was no reason to fear another postgame disaster.
He calmly rounded third and coasted toward the plate.
"We were happy he got around the bases in one piece," manager Mike Scioscia joked. "I know he feels good to contribute to a game and be a part of what our lineup can be."
Morales says he feels fine physically. He continues to ice his surgically repaired left ankle after games but it's only for precautionary reasons.
"I've never lost faith," Morales said. "Ever since I hurt myself I always stayed positive, stayed mentally strong. That has been the key."