Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales won't play this season after deciding to undergo another surgery on his left ankle, leaving a huge hole in the middle of Los Angeles' lineup for the second straight season.
Morales and general manager Tony Reagins announced the decision Wednesday night after the club finally gave up on Morales' rocky rehabilitation. The Cuban slugger has been sidelined since May 29, 2010, when he broke his ankle while jumping on home plate to celebrate a game-ending grand slam at Angel Stadium.
"I think this is the best decision for the team and for myself," Morales said through a translator. "Obviously, I'd like to be on the field like any player. I knew on the road back, there were going to be some issues along the way. I wasn't ready to have surgery again, but this is the best path for the team and myself."
Although the fracture has fully healed, the secondary damage of Morales' jump has caused degenerative cysts and scar tissue in the ankle, said Lewis Yocum, the Angels' medical director. Yocum said recovery from the surgery will be at least six months, but could change depending on the nature of the procedure, which hasn't yet been scheduled.
"Kendrys has worked as hard as anybody in coming back from a serious injury, and it hasn't worked," Yocum said.
"We don't like to see this, but it's a known consequence of this type of injury," he added, describing Morales' leap onto home plate as a "devastating force."
Yocum said the surgeon might decide to put a bone graft into Morales' ankle, but won't know until the surgery is under way.
Morales was emerging as an elite slugger when he broke his ankle with one of the most bizarre sports injuries in recent history. He had 34 homers and 108 RBIs while leading the Angels to the AL championship series during his breakout 2009 campaign, and he led the Angels with 11 homers, 39 RBIs at the time of his injury last season.
Morales attempted to return in spring training, but has endured repeated setbacks. Even earlier this month, the Angels were hopeful Morales could do light running with hope of an imminent return.
Morales' slow comeback has affected the entire roster. Reagins didn't know whether he would have Morales in his cleanup spot this season, affecting his offseason personnel decisions.
"It's definitely a challenge for us," Reagins said. "Kendrys is a significant part of what we do in the middle of our lineup. I think our team has learned how to deal with his absence, and we have to move forward. This is what we need to go through to get to where we're going to be."
Without Morales, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been forced to use a patchwork lineup this year, although rookie Mark Trumbo has been solid as the regular first baseman.
Torii Hunter has been the Angels' cleanup hitter in 28 of their 38 games, but the veteran outfielder is batting just .241 with four homers and 16 RBIs.