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White Sox’ Brent Morel looks to keep mind, body sound

White Sox third baseman Brent Morel attributed his strong September last seasfinding comfort level after usual rookie ups downs. |

White Sox third baseman Brent Morel attributed his strong September last season to finding a comfort level after the usual rookie ups and downs. | AP

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Updated: April 20, 2012 8:13AM

MESA, Ariz. — White Sox third baseman Brent Morel is picking up in spring training where he left off in September. If he can stay healthy in body and mind — two areas he’s paying close attention to this spring — he just might extend his good run into April and beyond.

Morel hit eight home runs in September after hitting two before then. He attributes it to selectivity and finding a comfort level after the usual rookie ups and downs.

‘‘That last line curve you kind of have to go through,’’ he said.

Morel batted .245 with a .287 on-base percentage in 2011. Fifteen walks in September lifted his on-base percentage to .345 for the month.

It was a strong hint he had figured things out. If his .370 spring average is any indication, Morel has good retention, although he hasn’t walked while striking out twice.

‘‘It’s kind of about being comfortable and relaxed and worry-free, letting your abilities take over in what you’ve done your whole life and translating it to the big-league level,’’ Morel said.

‘‘He probably learned how to hit up there,’’ Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto said. ‘‘Looking at the video, he was really using his legs. When you put that together, it’s a perfect storm for more home runs.’’

Morel now knows that eating right and lifting weights are key to staying strong into August and
beyond. He’s making a point of
being better at that this season.

‘‘A lot of it has to do with your diet,’’ Morel said. ‘‘What you put in your body helps so much out on the field. I’ve learned that the better you eat and the more
you take care of your body, the faster you recover. It seems to be working so far. I have a lot more energy out there.’’

Minor back stiffness kept Morel out of the lineup Saturday. He struck out looking and flied out to right in two at-bats Sunday.

Morel wants 600-at-bat seasons and a long career, so he took to heart what the ageless Omar Vizquel, who played at age 44 for the Sox last season, told him: Get in the weight room whether you want to or not.

Spring training and the 162-game schedule ‘‘is definitely a grind,’’
Morel said. ‘‘It’s going to be a learning experience, hopefully, playing every day.’’

It should help that Morel is as low-key as they come.

‘‘That plays to his advantage,’’ Manto said. ‘‘He’s on an even keel all the time. You can’t get too high or too low here or it will eat you up. He seems to be flat-lined every night, which is good.

‘‘He’s as low-maintenance [preparation-wise] as it comes. I’m really impressed with the amount of work he doesn’t need to do. He’s as solid as it comes right now.’’

Morel said he’s still figuring things out. But he feels good at the plate and is seeing the ball well. For Manto, patience isn’t a concern.

‘‘When you’re a young hitter in the big leagues, you’re trying to find your niche,’’ Manto said. ‘‘You get a little nervous and jumpy at times. With young hitters, that’s not alarming at all. Especially going into this year, he’ll be more aware of what’s going on around him and inside the game. I don’t anticipate that being a concern.’’

The concern for Morel, who has a job won, is being ready to go to work every day.

‘‘You have to do what you can to take care of your body and do what you can to stay on the field and stay healthy,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m trying to figure out everything I need to be strong going into Day 1.’’

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