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Kendry Morales

Kendry Morales

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Kendrys Morales Rodriguez (born June 20, 1983) is a Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 first baseman
First baseman
First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner in order to score a run for that player's team...

 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...

. He is a switch hitter
Switch hitter
In baseball, a switch-hitter is a player who bats both right-handed and left-handed.-Baseball:Usually, right-handed batters hit better against left-handed pitchers and vice-versa. Most curveballs break away from batters hitting from the same side as the opposing pitcher. Such pitches are often...

 and throws right-handed.

Cuban career

Morales played in Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

's equivalent of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' Triple-A level. With 16-17 year olds in the category, he was the first starter
Starting pitcher
In baseball or softball, a starting pitcher is the pitcher who delivers the first pitch to the first batter of a game. A pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher....

 of the pitching staff, and fourth in the batting order, and had the ability to hit home run
Home run
In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team in the process...

s from both sides of the plate.

Morales joined the Cuban national baseball team in and immediately became a star player—despite being the first teenager to make the team in nearly twenty years. He was the cleanup hitter
Cleanup hitter
In baseball, the cleanup hitter is the hitter who bats fourth in the lineup. Although the third man up is generally the hitter with the highest batting average, cleanup hitters often have the most power on the team and are typically the team's best power hitter; their job is to "clean up the...

 on the team during its dramatic World Cup championship. His grand slam
Grand slam (baseball)
In the sport of baseball, a grand slam is a home run hit with all three bases occupied by baserunners , thereby scoring four runs—the most possible in one play. According to The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the term originated in the card game of contract bridge, in which a grand slam involves...

 in the final round against Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 secured a 6-3 Cuban victory, one game after hitting a home run that provided the winning runs against Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...


In his first—of two and a half—full season with Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

's Industriales
Industriales is a baseball team in the Cuban National Series. One of the two teams based in the city of Havana, Industriales is historically the most successful team in the National Series, the main domestic competition in post-revolutionary Cuban baseball...

, in 2002, Morales had a batting average
Batting average
Batting average is a statistic in both cricket and baseball that measures the performance of cricket batsmen and baseball hitters. The two statistics are related in that baseball averages are directly descended from the concept of cricket averages.- Cricket :...

 of .324 with 21 home runs and 82 RBI
Run batted in
Runs batted in or RBIs is a statistic used in baseball and softball to credit a batter when the outcome of his at-bat results in a run being scored, except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play. The first team to track RBI was the Buffalo Bisons.Common nicknames for an RBI...

, and pitched in a game during the regular season, setting seven rookie records in the process (including HR and RBI); and obviously becoming Rookie of the Year, being considered the best rookie history of Cuban baseball. In his second season, although he did not hit as many home runs as in his rookie season, due to a lesion
A lesion is any abnormality in the tissue of an organism , usually caused by disease or trauma. Lesion is derived from the Latin word laesio which means injury.- Types :...

, he finished with a .391 batting average.

Morales' stardom in Cuba was short-lived, however. He was sent back to Cuba from Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 during the Olympic
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 qualifying round in November 2003 for making contact with an agent. It was the last time he would suit up as a Cuban.

Coming to the United States

By early , Cuba's national team and the Industriales banned Morales from their teams for disciplinary reasons due to their belief that he had met with people in an attempt to flee the nation. Morales denies this accusation, telling a reporter "That's not true. I never talked to any agent. But from that moment on, I just wanted to leave. I tried to do it several times without success, occasionally ending up in jail." He escaped on a raft in June 2004 to the shores of southern Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, his 12th attempt at escape.

But, as is the usual practice of defectors, he chose to leave the country to establish foreign residency so as to avoid the MLB draft
Draft (sports)
A draft is a process used in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Russia and the Philippines to allocate certain players to sports teams. In a draft, teams take turns selecting from a pool of eligible players...

. He left once again, this time to the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, where he was privately scouted by several Major League teams. Preston Gómez
Preston Gómez
Preston Gómez was a Cuban-born infielder, manager, coach and front-office official in Major League Baseball best known for managing three major league clubs: the San Diego Padres , Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs . He was born Pedro Gómez Martinez in Preston, Cuba, and was given his nickname in U.S...

, in his role as consultant to Angels general manager Bill Stoneman
Bill Stoneman
William Hambly Stoneman III is a consultant for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball. From 1999 to October 15, 2007, he served as the general manager of the Angels...

, ended up signing him to a six-year deal with three-million dollars
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 up front in December 2004. Morales played winter ball for the Estrellas Orientales
Estrellas Orientales
Estrellas Orientales is a baseball team in the Dominican Winter League. Based in San Pedro de Macorís, the team has historically struggled, winning championships only in 1954 and 1968.-Retired numbers:-Trivia:...

 Dominican team to keep himself in game shape.

Minor league career

By the spring of , the Angels hoped to have Morales practice in the Cactus League to get ready for a quick ascension through their farm system or possibly even make the team as the designated hitter
Designated hitter
In baseball, the designated hitter rule is the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, an official position adopted by the American League in 1973 that allows teams to designate a player, known as the designated hitter , to bat in place of the pitcher each time he would otherwise come to...

. Because he was not yet a citizen, the Dominican government held up granting Morales the necessary passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

 to fly back to the U.S. for several months. He was not able to get all his paperwork in order until late May and he finally made his minor league debut on May 21 for the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes are a minor league baseball team in Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA. They are a Class A – Advanced team in the California League and a farm team of the Los Angeles Dodgers, their third major league affiliate in team history....


To help his new club scout his ability against U.S. pitching, Morales began his minor league career with nearby Rancho Cucamonga. After three weeks of easy hitting (his batting average was .344, with 5 home runs), he was moved up to Double-A Arkansas
Arkansas Travelers
The Arkansas Travelers, also known informally as The Travs, are a Minor League Baseball team based in Little Rock, Arkansas. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Major League club....

, where he was second on the team in home runs despite playing there for only half the season. When that season ended, he was chosen by the Angels to play fall ball for the Surprise Scorpions.

Major league career

Morales had a strong spring training
Spring training
In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play...

 in for the Angels, but failed to make the 25-man roster.
He ultimately made his Major League debut on May 23, , playing first base and going 3-for-5, including a home run in his second at bat
At bat
In baseball, an at bat or time at bat is used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. It is a more restricted definition of a plate appearance...

, versus the Texas Rangers
Texas Rangers (baseball)
The Texas Rangers are a professional baseball team in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, based in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League, and are the reigning A.L. Western Division and A.L. Champions. Since , the Rangers have...

. Thereafter he performed well enough to be the Angels regular first baseman until his eventual demotion back to Triple-A on July 23, 2006.

2009 season

Morales enjoyed a breakout year in his first full-season. He hit 34 home runs and slugged .569, ranking second only to AL MVP Joe Mauer in the AL.

Morales was promoted to starting first basemen after Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira
Mark Charles Teixeira , nicknamed "Tex" is an American Major League Baseball player for the New York Yankees. Mostly a first baseman, he has also played third base and in the outfield...

 (Angels first baseman for the 2008 season) left the Angels as a free agent in the winter of 2008. Morales said of the timing of his promotion, "The guys that played ahead of me were seasoned players, and I didn't deserve to play in the big leagues yet. The one thing I thought about -- not how long I had to wait -- was just to concentrate on playing well once that opportunity came."

He hit well in the first half, and hit extremely well in the second half of 2009, and was named AL Player of the Month in August when he drove in 33 runs in 28 games with 10 homers, batting .385 and slugging .734. His performance led to talk of him being a possible American League MVP, eventually placing 5th in MVP voting behind Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer
Joseph Patrick Mauer is a Major League Baseball catcher for the Minnesota Twins. He is the only catcher in Major League history to win three batting titles...

, Teixeira, Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter
Derek Sanderson Jeter is an American baseball shortstop who has played 17 years in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees. A twelve-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, Jeter's clubhouse presence, on-field leadership, hitting ability, and baserunning have made him a central...

, and Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera
José Miguel Cabrera Torres nicknamed "Miggy", is a Venezuelan professional baseball first baseman with the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball. He bats and throws right-handed....


2010 season

During a game against the Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners are a professional baseball team based in Seattle, Washington. Enfranchised in , the Mariners are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Safeco Field has been the Mariners' home ballpark since July...

 on May 29, 2010, Morales hit a walk-off grand slam
Walk-off home run
In baseball, a walk-off home run is a home run that ends the game. It must be a home run that gives the home team the lead in the bottom of the final inning of the game—either the ninth inning, or any extra inning, or any other regularly scheduled final inning...

 off of Brandon League
Brandon League
Brandon Paul League is a Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. He is married with three children. He resides in Honolulu, and is hapa Yonsei. His maternal great-grandparents were born and raised in Fukuoka prefecture on Kyushu Island in Japan...

. It was his first career grand slam, but in a disastrous turn of events, Morales fractured his lower left leg while celebrating his feat, landing awkwardly on home plate. He was immediately placed on the disabled list
Disabled list
In Major League Baseball, the disabled list is a method for teams to remove their injured players from the roster in order to summon healthy players.-General guidelines:...

. The injury required surgery, and he missed the rest of the 2010 season. In 51 games in the 2010 season, Morales hit .290 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs.

2011 season

On May 11, 2011, it was announced that Morales, still sidelined by his injured ankle from 2010, would miss the whole 2011 season due to complications in his rehabilitation from surgery on the ankle. His ankle, apparently, is made of glass.

Personal life

Morales has a wife, Yarley, with whom he has two kids: Hanely and Kendrys Jr. He also has a younger brother Daniel who plays ball at ISU. Until March 2011, MLB mistakenly spelled Morales' first name "Kendry".

2009 Highlights

  • During 2009 spring training in Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

    , Morales led all players in doubles
    Double (baseball)
    In baseball, a double is the act of a batter striking the pitched ball and safely reaching second base without being called out by the umpire, without the benefit of a fielder's misplay or another runner being put out on a fielder's choice....

    , with 11, while batting .400.http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable_player_stats.jsp?teamPosCode=All&statType=1&noHighlight=true§ion1=1&timeFrame=1&statSet1=1&baseballScope=mlb&=&=&=&=&timeSubFrame=23&&sortByStat=2B
  • On May 31, 2009, capped an 8–1 Angels' comeback with a walk-off RBI single
    Single (baseball)
    In baseball, a single is the most common type of base hit, accomplished through the act of a batter safely reaching first base by hitting a fair ball and getting to first base before a fielder puts him out...

     in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Seattle Mariners
    Seattle Mariners
    The Seattle Mariners are a professional baseball team based in Seattle, Washington. Enfranchised in , the Mariners are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Safeco Field has been the Mariners' home ballpark since July...

  • From June 24 to July 22, collected a 20-game hitting streak
    Hitting streak
    In baseball, a hitting streak refers to the number of consecutive official games in which a player gets at least one base hit.According to the Official Baseball Rules, such a streak is ended when a player has at least 1 plate appearance and no hits...

  • Was selected the American League Player of the Week for the period ending August 2.
  • On August 28, 2009, went 5-for-5 with six RBI, including two home runs and two doubles, to lead Angels' comeback over the Oakland Athletics
    Oakland Athletics
    The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the O.co Coliseum....

    , 11–7. He also surpassed Chili Davis
    Chili Davis
    Charles Theodore "Chili" Davis is the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics. Davis is a former outfielder/designated hitter who played in Major League Baseball with the San Francisco Giants , California Angels , Minnesota Twins , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees...

    ' franchise record for the single season home run record by a switch-hitter with 29 and tied Davis' franchise record of four extra-base hits in a game.
  • Was named the American League Player of the Month for August, after hit .385 (42-for-109) with 10 home runs, eight doubles, 22 runs, and 33 RBI in 28 games. He also set a new club record for RBI in the month, previously held by Bobby Bonds
    Bobby Bonds
    Bobby Lee Bonds was an American right fielder in Major League Baseball from to , primarily with the San Francisco Giants...

     (31) and was one RBI shy of the franchise record for any month.

External links