Brent Morel gets another crack at the majors
BY DAN MCGRATH For Sun-Times Media June 26, 2013 10:49PM
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 26: Brent Morel #22 of the Chicago White Sox gets his first Major League start since last year against the New York Mets at U.S. Cellular Field on June 26, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: July 30, 2013 8:06AM
Brent Morel made a monthlong case for himself as the third baseman of the future when he slugged eight homers and drove in 19 runs in 27 games in September 2011.
Morel finished the year with a .245 average, 10 homers and 41 RBI while giving the Sox the best fielding they had seen at third since Joe Crede’s prime.
Not bad for a 23-year-old in his first full major-league season.
But a back injury that flared up in spring training and never went away turned 2012 into a wasted year for Morel. He hit .177 with no power in 35 games, spent three months on the disabled list and failed to find an answer in rehab assignments at Class AAA Charlotte (.194) and Class A Winston-Salem (.227).
“It was pretty frustrating not being able to do the things I’m capable of doing at-bat or in the field,” Morel said.
When he failed to make this year’s club out of spring training, Morel became a forgotten man, although manager Robin Ventura said his right-handed bat prompted the roster decision.
“We needed some balance, and [Conor] Gillaspie being left-handed made [Morel] the odd man out. To his credit, he went down and worked at it and put himself at the top of the list in case something happened.”
When Gillaspie left the club after Tuesday’s game to be with his pregnant wife, Morel got the call from Charlotte, started at third on Wednesday and went 1-for-3 in the Sox’ 3-0 loss to the New York Mets. He was batting .280 with five homers and 40 RBIs in 66 games with the Knights.
“It was kind of disappointing not to make the team out of spring training, but I went down, I played well and I’m back,” Morel said. “I’m not worried about long-term — that’s out of my hands. You’ve got to play well and prove you can play every day.”
The stiffness in his back that kept Paul Konerko out of the lineup on Tuesday was still bothering him, so he missed a second consecutive game in the midst of his best stretch of the season — 18-for-52 (.348) with two doubles, two homers and nine RBI in 14 games.
“It’s still the same,” Ventura said. “He’d been swinging great, but it’s got to get better. You pay a price for playing in the big leagues every day for a long time.”
With Thursday a scheduled day off, Ventura hopes to have Konerko back for the weekend’s series against the Cleveland Indians that begins with a Friday doubleheader.
Ventura said the Sox might add a pitcher — “a long reliever type” — to fortify the staff for four games in three days against the Indians, although Monday is another day off.
◆ Charlotte teammates Andre Rienzo and Josh Phegley will represent the White Sox at the Futures Game as part of the All-Star Game festivities in New York on July 14. The Brazilian-born Rienzo (5-5, 5.33 ERA for Charlotte) will pitch for the World team and Phegley (.314, 13 homers, 36 RBIs) will catch for Team USA.