The Angels will open the 2011 season in Kansas City on Thursday with the same void in their lineup that doomed their 2010 season: First baseman Kendrys Morales is still not ready to return from the fractured ankle he suffered last May.
Morales' absence for all but the first 51 games of the 2010 season exposed a lack of depth in an Angels' offense that produced just 661 runs (202 fewer than 2009, the biggest drop-off in the majors). That was the Angels' lowest full-season total since 1992.
But manager Mike Scioscia insists this year's team is much better prepared to produce while it waits for Morales' return.
"I think our lineup is deeper now without Kendrys than it was at any time last year," Scioscia said this spring.
Gone from last year's offense are the team leaders in home runs and slugging percentage (Mike Napoli) and on-base percentage (Hideki Matsui). The only real addition is Vernon Wells. The Angels are also plugging unproven youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo into their everyday lineup.
"We're not expecting one guy to come in and carry the load," Scioscia said. "We expect Vernon Wells to have an impact. But for our offense to improve, it's going to take more than one guy.
"The lion's share has to come from guys who have been here -- guys like Erick (Aybar), guys like Bobby (Abreu) who were down last year -- having the kind of years they're capable of. It's not a matter of looking at how many runs we scored in 2009 and 2010 and asking how much of that gap are we going to bridge. It's a matter of creating enough offense to win games."
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