By the simplest measure, this season is already a success for Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Kendrys Morales: He's playing every day after missing nearly two years while recovering from a fractured ankle suffered in May 2010.
But by another measure -- the standard Morales himself set with an MVP-caliber season in 2009 -- this season is coming up short. Morales is batting .270 with eight home runs and 24 RBI.
His production has been more uneven than those totals indicate. Morales is batting just .227 (15-for-66) over his past 20 games, the latest down cycle in an up-and-down season.
Meanwhile, outfielder Mark Trumbo leads the Angels with 17 home runs and 49 RBI (including a big-league-high 30 since May 27) while batting .316. But manager Mike Scioscia insists it is not time for Trumbo to take over the cleanup spot in the batting order on a full-time basis. Scioscia still bats the switch-hitting Morales fourth behind Albert Pujols against right-handed pitching. Morales provides the only left-handed power threat in the lineup. Against left-handed pitching, Trumbo moves ahead of Morales and bats cleanup.
"For our team to get where we need to be, Kendrys has to be a part of it," Scioscia said. "Our lineup is deeper with those two guys behind Pujols in some combination. Right now, with the way Kendrys was swinging the bat from the left side early in the season, it was a real plus for us, and we need him to be that.
"I think he needs to get a little simpler from the left side. He's starting to sway a little bit and isn't driving pitches the way he can when he's locked in."