TEMPE, Ariz. -- The new body Bobby Wilson brought to Spring Training clearly is paying dividends. The Angels catcher is drawing rave reviews from the critic who counts most, Mike Scioscia.
"The way he's moving around the plate," Scioscia said, "he's doing things with more ease. Last year, he blocked the ball well, but you can see he's quicker back there, more confident."
Wilson, through a winter-long program of improved diet and conditioning work, dropped 33 pounds, to 210, while adding strength and gaining a wife, Lori. It was an offseason that might have altered the course of his career.
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"We talked to Bobby [after the 2009 season]," Scioscia said. "All we wanted him to lose was 20 pounds, and he ran with it. He's always been a big kid. He dieted, exercised and he's at a strong weight. He's doing most things with more ease. And it should help him with his durability. He wants to make a statement."
Wilson's self-improvement hasn't been confined to his physique. He has worked on his hitting stroke with the idea of making even more consistent contact, and through six Cactus League games, he's batting .429 with one strikeout in 14 at-bats.
"I feel pretty good about how things are going," Wilson said, "but I've got a long way to go.
"We did all the testing after I got home [to Florida] after the season. I was 243 pounds. At the end, after the dieting and workouts, I was 30 pounds lighter, and the testing showed my strength had almost doubled.
"I had some knee issues, and the leg workouts I did really improved my strength. My body fat went down five percent, from 18 to 13. I wasn't just losing weight, I was getting rid of fat and adding muscle."
Jeff Mathis, who shared the catching job with Mike Napoli for four years, is also having a solid spring, batting .308 in six games. Hank Conger is struggling to get started in his bid to land a roster spot, hitting .063 in 16 at-bats.
Morales begins running drills at Angels camp
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Having finally cleared his treadmill tests, Kendrys Morales -- Kendry never legally existed -- is testing his surgically repaired left leg and ankle in running drills at Angels camp.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia hopes to have his first baseman in a game by March 19 or 20, which would give him time to be ready for Opening Day on March 31 in Kansas City.
"Kendry had a great workout yesterday," Scioscia said, using Morales' more familiar name out of habit. "He ran outside and ran great.
"He's past the treadmill. He'll use it to supplement stuff. Right now, he's making the transition to the on-field, full weight-bearing timetable we've always talked about. He's on schedule. If he's out there on the 19th or 20th, that gives him time to play in games, hit in Minor League camp ... get 10 games to work it out. He'll have plenty of at-bats."
Scioscia is unsure whether Morales, if he remains on schedule, will open at first base -- where slugging Mark Trumbo has been flourishing -- or as a designated hitter.
Defensively, Scioscia said, "it's a function of getting right-side defense down, breaking for a ball in the hole and getting back to first."
Walden bringing the heat for Angels
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jordan Walden's calling card is heat few Major League pitchers can match. The Angels reliever unleashed 53 pitches in triple digits last season in just a month of work.
Only the Tigers' Joel Zumaya and the Athletics' Henry Rodriguez threw more pitches at 100 mph or higher than Walden, who struck out 23 in 15 1/3 innings after getting recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
In three spring outings, Walden has been close to perfect, facing one over the minimum in three innings. He has yielded two hits and a walk while striking out one man, inducing a pair of double plays on ground balls.
"He's got real good life on his fastball, but no sink," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's got a little run on the fastball, but he doesn't project out to be a ground-ball pitcher."
A starter in his first three professional seasons, with arm ailments interrupting his development, Walden made the transition to the bullpen last year and found it to his liking.
Starting the season at Double-A Arkansas and getting promoted to Salt Lake, Walden pitched a total of 65 innings, including his work with the Angels. He yielded 65 hits and 31 walks while striking out 64.
"That line of crossing from middle [relief] to setup guy is not as big as from setup guy to closer," Scioscia said. "That wall is pretty thick. You want to make sure a guy's prepared for it."
Bobby Abreu, depleted by allergies, was removed from Thursday's lineup at Tempe, Ariz., against the Royals. Tyson Auer took over in left field with shortstop Erick Aybar elevated to Abreu's No. 2 spot in the order between Maicer Izturis and Torii Hunter. ... Bench coach Rob Picciolo took the managerial reins with Mike Scioscia heading to Peoria, Ariz., to face the Mariners with a split-squad. ... Mike Trout was in the No. 3 spot as DH. The 19-year-old phenom has had shoulder stiffness and probably won't be back in the outfield for a few days, Scioscia said. ... Second baseman Alexi Amarista has a bone bruise in his heel and will need a few more days to recover. ... The Angels are planning to stage a "B" game with the Rockies in Tempe on their off-day Monday, with Scott Kazmir expected to take the mound backed by a group of young players.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.