FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Entering his 11th Major League season with his fifth team, Kendrys Morales knows what is expected of him, especially in playing for a club that lost Edwin Encarnacion's .886 OPS, 42 home runs and American League-leading 127 RBIs.
In 10 seasons with the Angels, Mariners, Twins and Royals, Morales, who agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract this offseason, compiled a .273 average with a .331 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage.
On Saturday he made the five-hour round trip from Dunedin to play the Twins -- a fairly long trip in Spring Training for a player with that much time in the league. Morales went 2-for-3 in the Blue Jays' 6-2 loss.
"We all know what Edwin was to this team and what he is as a player," Morales said through Twins translator Carlos Font. "Everybody knows that he's a good hitter in the big leagues. But I'm just going to come here and do my job and do what I can do and do what I can to try and help the team win."
In five Grapefruit League games Morales is hitting .545, going 6-for-11 with a .909 slugging percentage, one home run and three RBIs.
"In baseball you want to do the best you can and you want to play good," he said. "But I feel good right now. I think we're doing good and I'm doing good, making adjustments to what I'm seeing. But, yeah, I think I'm doing good."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons concurs.
"I love everything I've seen," said Gibbons, who is still getting to know his new designated hitter. "I'd seen him on different teams when we played against him, always been a huge fan. The reason being he's always such a good hitter, tough out, and he always did some damage against us. You remember those guys.
"But when you're around him every day -- and I'd heard this from guys in Kansas City before he signed -- they said you won't find a better guy. And that's the truth. I watched him during our workouts. He really engaged in everything. He doesn't speak a lot of English but he's really engaged. And making road trips, he's got no problem with that, which is unusual. But really a good guy. And the most important thing, he's been a heck of a hitter in the league for a number of years, which is the main reason we got him. Just a professional hitter. He's not just a slugger; he's a hitter, too."