Chicago White Sox: Brent Morel

Sox lose 3B Morel, claim LHP Surkamp

December, 23, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
While the Chicago White Sox lost an infielder Monday, they were able to pick up a left-handed pitcher.

Third baseman Brent Morel was picked up off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays, but the White Sox were able to add left-hander Eric Surkamp on a waiver claim from the San Francisco Giants.

Surkamp posted a 2.80 ERA in 16 starts between Class A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno in 2013 after returning from ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery in 2012. He made one start for the Giants in August. Since the start of the 2011 season, he has gone 2-3 with a 7.36 ERA in seven major league starts.

One season before he was injured, Surkamp was 11-4 with a 1.94 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts) between the Class A and Double-A levels.

A native of Cincinnati, the 26-year-old was a sixth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2008 out of North Carolina State.

Morel has played sparingly on the major league level the past two seasons after getting a crack at the starting third-base job with the White Sox in 2011. He batted .245 with a .366 slugging percentage in 413 at-bats in 2011, with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Limited by a back issue that first surfaced in 2012, Morel batted .181 with a .196 slugging percentage in 138 at-bats for the White Sox the past two seasons.

Morel optioned; Beckham hurting

July, 21, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Infielder Brent Morel was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after Sunday’s game, while Gordon Beckham revealed that his injured left hand is hurting him again.

Paul Konerko, who has been on the disabled list with a lower back strain, is expected to be activated Monday to take Morel’s roster spot, although the White Sox did not make that official Sunday.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 10, Braves 6

July, 20, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox reached double digits in runs for just the fourth time all season Saturday in a 10-6 interleague victory over the Atlanta Braves.

How it happened: Redemption came quickly for Alex Rios, who hit a grand slam and had five RBIs one day after he was benched for not hustling out of the batter’s box. Rios ended the day with three hits. Jake Peavy, in his first start since returning from the disabled list because of a rib fracture, gave up four runs over six innings, but just two of the runs were earned. A Josh Phegley passed ball and a Brent Morel error led to early Braves runs. Alejandro De Aza matched a career high with four hits.

What it means: Getting a swift kick in the pants Friday from manager Robin Ventura’s benching did wonders for Rios, whose approach at the plate was far better than it had been in recent weeks, outside of his six-hit game July 9. Rios appeared to stay back at the plate instead of lunging, giving his long swing the timing needed to catch up to pitches. If the plethora of scouts in attendance were disappointed to see his lack of hustle Friday, they had to be impressed by his at-bats Saturday.

Outside the box: Rios’ grand slam ended a long power drought. It was the first time he went deep in 120 at-bats, going all the way back to a home run against the Oakland Athletics on June 9. It was also Rios’ first grand slam since hitting one Sept. 10, 2011, against the Cleveland Indians. It was just the second White Sox slam this season, following one by Phegley on July 11 at Detroit.

Off beat: Phegley sure knows how to cover his tracks, as he overcame his early miscue that led to a run. On the first batter of the game, the rookie catcher mishandled a third strike, couldn’t find the ball near his feet and allowed Jose Constanza to reach first base. An unearned run ultimately scored. All Phegley did after that was collect three hits (two doubles), score two runs and drive in another.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Jose Quintana (4-2, 3.71 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. The Braves will counter with left-hander Mike Minor (9-4, 3.02 ERA) in the 1:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Beckham's move to short for the long haul

July, 6, 2013
By Chris Girandola
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In Friday night's 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Gordon Beckham made his first major league appearance at shortstop, and Brent Morel did the same at first. Beckham's move to short was the most intriguing, considering he was drafted in 2008 out of the University of Georgia, with which he earned SEC Player of the Year and NCAA First-Team All-American honors as a shortstop.

The move actually fell into place for the White Sox, who were trailing 8-1 when Beckham took over for Alexei Ramirez after the seventh inning. Ramirez had played every inning this season until resting the last two frames.

"I think last night was one of those nights to get Gordon comfortable over there instead of just hitting him with it one day," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "To get him over there in the middle of the game, he's already got his adrenaline going, so it wasn't that big of a shock for him to go over there and do it. He didn't have a lot of time to think about it through batting practice. That was more of the reason."

The White Sox experimented with a variety of options as backup shortstops earlier in the season, but none have panned out to the point at which Ventura has felt comfortable replacing Ramirez for a game.

Apparently, the White Sox skipper has begun thinking of a reliable suitor for Ramirez when the need arises. During Beckham's rehabilitation stint for his surgically repaired left hand back in May, he played several innings at short for Triple-A Charlotte.

"Now [Beckham] is a little more excited about wanting to do it," Ventura said. "Don't know if he's going to do it or when he's going to do it, but now we know."

Ramirez was the last major leaguer to have played every inning this season. Last season, he became the first White Sox shortstop to appear in 135 games or more in five consecutive seasons since Ozzie Guillen did so from 1985 to 1991, including at least 156 contests each of the past three seasons.

Phegley rests

Ventura decided to go with a lineup featuring a majority of right-handed hitters against Rays left-handed starter Matt Moore. The 24-year-old southpaw is 11-3 with a 3.65 ERA this season.

That meant rookie catcher Josh Phegley -- who made his major league debut on Friday -- would rest while Tyler Flowers started.

"Phegs wasn't going to catch both games, and then you have a day game after a night game [on Sunday], so you want to mix it up a little bit," Ventura said. "Plus, Moore is tough, so you put guys out there to face him."

Moore started out the season red hot, holding right-handed hitters to an American League low .153 batting average. Over his five starts in June, righties hit .322 (28-for-87) against Moore, the 10th-highest average in the AL during that span.

Ventura reiterated, though, that Phegley would play a substantial amount of time moving forward.

"I think as you go, if he hits, he plays more," Ventura said. "He wasn't called up to not play. Whether he splits time with Flowers at a 50-50 pace, I don't think it's going to be handled that way. It's all a matter of if he plays well, he is in there."

Gillaspie returns, Morel stays

June, 28, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- With a well-rested bullpen, the Chicago White Sox will carry an extra position player for Friday's doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians.

Since teams are able to operate with a 26-man roster for certain doubleheaders, Conor Gillaspie was activated from paternity leave while Brent Morel will remain with the team for at least another day.

Gillaspie was not on the roster Wednesday after leaving for the birth of his first child. Morel, the Opening Day third baseman in 2012, was called up from Triple-A Charlotte and went 1-for-3 for the White Sox on Wednesday against the New York Mets.

Manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday he was leading toward adding a reliever for the doubleheader, but starter John Danks pitched eight innings that night and Thursday was an off day leaving a fresh bullpen heading into the weekend.

Morel's stint with Sox likely to be short

June, 26, 2013
Levine By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox recalled infielder Brent Morel from Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday to replace Conor Gillaspie, who is on paternity leave.

The former Sox starting third baseman has been trying to work his way back to the major leagues after an injury and poor play resulted in a demotion.

Morel is likely to be sent back to the minors once Gillaspie returns, however manager Robin Ventura left the door open a bit for the third baseman.

“You don’t know,” Ventura said. “As of right now it will probably be while Conor is gone. Again you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.”

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Mets 3, White Sox 0

June, 26, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox struggled on offense in a 3-0 defeat Wednesday to the New York Mets, as the interleague foes split a two-game series for the second time this season.

How it happened: John Danks deserved a better fate as a lack of run support and another rough night on defense did in the White Sox. The Mets scored two runs on an Alexei Ramirez error in the fifth inning and added another on an infield single that glanced off the glove of third baseman Brent Morel. On top of that, the White Sox couldn’t score against Shaun Marcum, who entered with a 5.76 ERA and was only the third pitcher in Mets history to open a season with at least nine defeats and no victories.

What it means: Ramirez’s error was his 13th of the season, one more than he had all of last year when the White Sox led the league in fielding percentage. The White Sox were coming off a game Tuesday when Gordon Beckham's error on a popup with two outs in the ninth inning allowed the tying run to score. On Sunday at Kansas City, Ramirez had another two-run error that put the Royals in the lead for good.

Outside the box: At home anyway, Danks has been one tough customer since he returned to action in late May after one year away because of a shoulder injury. Danks lowered his U.S. Cellular Field ERA to 2.11 in three starts. He had also retired 30 consecutive batters at home before the Mets’ Eric Young Jr. led off the fourth inning with a single. The streak of consecutive batters started during his June 8 start against the Oakland Athletics.

Off beat: The White Sox did manage to put the ball in play Wednesday, striking out just two times and none of those were by Adam Dunn. Ramirez struck out once as did Alex Rios. Ramirez had two hits, though, giving him 22 over his last 14 games and 27 over his last 20 games. Two of the White Sox’s four hits came from the bottom third of the order as Morel had one out of the seventh spot and Beckham had one from the eighth spot.

Up next: The White Sox will have a day off Thursday before playing host to the Cleveland Indians on Friday in a traditional doubleheader that will start at 4:10 p.m. at U.S. Cellular Field.

Mitchell sent down, Morel to DL

April, 19, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Struggling outfielder Jared Mitchell was sent down to Double-A Birmingham after starting the season with a .132 batting average over his first 53 at-bats at Triple-A Charlotte.

After a 32-game stint in Triple-A last year, the White Sox hoped the former first-round draft pick could put together a productive season at the minor league’s highest level and move closer to making his major league debut. Instead he posted a .277 on-base percentage and a .170 slugging percentage in the early going.

Now, the 24-year-old Mitchell will return to Birmingham, where he had 10 home runs, 54 RBIs and an .808 OPS last season in 94 games and 334 at-bats.

In another move at Charlotte, Brent Morel was placed on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury. He last played Monday, striking out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Morel was batting .231 with a .764 OPS over his first 11 games played in Triple-A.

The two moves helped the Knights free up roster space for Blake Tekotte and Josh Bell, who were activated off the disabled list.

White Sox send Morel to Charlotte

March, 19, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
Most notable of the five roster moves the Chicago White Sox made Tuesday is the option of third baseman Brent Morel to Triple-A Charlotte.

Also optioned to Charlotte was right-hander Deunte Heath, while left-hander Daniel Moskos, infielder Carlos Sanchez and right-hander Zach Stewart were reassigned to minor-league camp.

The Morel move is far from a surprise. Coming off a lumbar back strain last season that had him on the disabled list for nearly three months, Morel was hoping to force himself on a crowded roster this spring.

He came into camp fit and with a swing that coaches were raving about, but wasn't able to deliver on the field despite numerous chances. Heading into Cactus League play Tuesday, Morel's 18 games were more than anybody in camp. He hit two home runs, but batted just .216 and had as many strikeouts as hits.

With Jeff Keppinger signed this offseason and expected to play third base, Morel's challenge to make the roster already was a big one. When camp started his chances took another hit when the White Sox acquired left-handed hitting third baseman Conor Gillaspie from the San Francisco Giants.

While playing in one less game this spring, Gillaspie has batted .303 with two home runs and 10 RBIs to Morel's three. In fact, Gillaspie is tied with Dayan Viciedo for the team lead in RBIs.

Sanchez, a top infield prospect in the organization, still is aimed for more development. The White Sox had no intention of having him make the major league roster as a utility player, preferring that he gets at-bats every day in the minor leagues so his growth can continue.

Stewart, who was reacquired this winter when he was claimed off waivers, was battling for a potential spot-starter role if John Danks (shoulder) wasn't able to start the season on time. Dylan Axelrod has emerged as the leader for that role, though, if needed.

The White Sox have 36 players remaining in big-league camp leaving them with 11 more moves to make before the season starts April 1 at home against the Kansas City Royals.

Ventura impressed with early arrivals

February, 16, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Chicago White Sox are so eager to get going this season that nearly everybody has been at camp in advance of Sunday’s first full-squad workout.

The turnout has been so impressive that only three players have yet to check in: Alejandro De Aza, Alexei Ramirez and Tyler Saladino, a non-roster invitee who was third in walks (75) and steals (38) in the Double-A Southern League last season.

“Everyone is scheduled to be here,” manager Robin Ventura said Saturday. “I hope they all make it and are ready to go. Nobody has been put on anything (medically) to keep them away. There are some guys we’re watching but they’re not going to do anything more than we’re asking.”

Guys on easier early schedules are John Danks, Chris Sale and Matt Thornton. Danks is coming off of shoulder surgery, while the club wants to start Sale and Thornton with a lighter load. The team will also keep a close watch on Brent Morel, who is coming off back issues last season.

“It’s nice,” Ventura said of all the early arrivals. “I don’t really remember this many guys showing up (early). They’re excited to be here and just get going. Today is one of those days where we had the hitters hitting off the pitchers for the first time so it’s nice and exciting. (Sunday) will be great just to get everyone in and on a regular schedule.”

Morel determined to earn back old job

February, 16, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wasting no time in his all-out quest to get his job back, Brent Morel has been a fixture all week along with White Sox pitchers and catchers.

Morel was among a handful of position players that have been on hand since the beginning of camp, instead of waiting for Sunday’s first full-squad workout.

With what was eventually classified as a lumbar back strain last year, Morel never had surgery, but his recovery was slow and marked by setbacks.

Then this winter, he saw the Jeff Keppinger signing and heard all the talk about how the White Sox have a new third baseman. But since nobody told Morel he’s on the outside looking in, he will pick up where he left off last spring.

Exactly one year ago, Morel was coming off a strong final month and was about to put together an impressive spring training that made it look as if he had figured out exactly how to tap into the potential the White Sox saw when they made him a third-round draft pick in 2008.

Then the back issues started.

“You never want to get hurt and miss the whole year,” said Morel, who played in just 35 major league games a season ago. “Just being away and watching the team from afar and seeing them come so close and not pulling it off at the end, it just gets you that much more motivated. Stepping away just gave me that much more desire and motivation to get me back to where I was.”

A top-notch defender, Morel hadn’t shown much in the way of offense until the end of the 2011 season, when he was essentially out of his mind. Clearly determined to take a more aggressive approach once September started that year, Morel batted just .224 in the month but had eight of his 10 home runs and 19 of his 41 RBIs. He also had monthly highs in slugging percentage (.553) and OPS (.893).

“I finished off 2011 strong and was hoping to build on that going into last year,” Morel said. “I was having a good spring, and the back kind of happened. I’m just kind of throwing that out and trying to build off how I ended 2011 when I was healthy.”

It doesn’t figure to be easy. Former White Sox third baseman Joe Crede can attest to the challenges back injuries bring, as his career was cut short because of them. Crede is now a farmer in Missouri. The White Sox still don’t know how Morel will move forward after his issues.

“We need to be cautious at this point,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We should be. Based on what he showed us in the winter and what he showed us in the first couple of days, we can be cautiously optimistic. But we need him to continue to show where he is physically once he gets into playing on a daily basis and diving for balls and running the bases and playing the game at full speed.

"So far everything has been real encouraging.”

Manager Robin Ventura admits to having a vested interest in Morel. Both Ventura and Morel are mild-mannered, have third base in common and hail from the Central California area.

“Watching him now, he’s different now than he was last year as far as watching him physically go out there and do things,” Ventura said. “I’m excited to see what he can do, and yeah, I kind of get the same area thing and all that. But I’m happy for him just to be out here without mental things going on in his mind of maybe not being as healthy as he wants to be.”

With everybody not knowing what to expect, Morel has the advantage of being able to open some eyes, not unlike the first time he was able to break upon the scene. He has the added advantage, though, of having done this before while being able to perform in front of coaches who know him well.

“They’ve seen me play, and I think right now it’s just a matter of being healthy or not,” Morel said. “I worked in the offseason, and I got ready for this, and I’m just trying to stay healthy.”

It wouldn’t seem likely that the White Sox would sign Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million deal to turn around and have him serve as a backup, but the White Sox say they are open to having Morel at third base if he deserves to be there.

“In the end, we’re going to take the 25 best, and Robin will play the lineup he believes will give him a good chance to win on any given night,” Hahn said. “That has been clear from the start. I don’t view us passing on a guy that we feel will help us win ballgames because of other roster considerations right now. There is flexibility in other things that can be done if need be.”

Viciedo, Flowers into swing of things

February, 7, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
Dayan ViciedoDavid Banks/Getty ImagesDayan Viciedo hit 25 home runs in his first full major league season in 2012.
CHICAGO -- Forget the late-season slump and the struggles against right-handed pitching, the Chicago White Sox remain supremely confident that Dayan Viciedo will emerge as a powerful force in the American League.

The latest to pick up the cause for the right-handed power hitter was hitting coach Jeff Manto, whose handiwork will be evident from the moment spring training begins.

"We're going to ask him to add a little leg kick for a timing mechanism," Manto said Thursday about the slugger who won't even turn 24 until next month. "That's not going to be a big deal."

Actually, it could be a very big deal if Viciedo uses the leg kick to trigger the kind of explosive season the White Sox are counting on seeing at regular intervals.

(Read full post)

Sox spring training preview: Infield

February, 7, 2013
Padilla By Doug Padilla
Jeff KeppingerTom O'Neill/Icon SMINew addition Jeff Keppinger gives the White Sox some flexibility throughout the infield.
Doug Padilla previews the White Sox by position in the days leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training on Tuesday.

The addition of free agent Jeff Keppinger, who figures to get most of his action at third base, will end up sending reverberations all around the Chicago White Sox's infield.

Short on cash to spend on the free-agent market, the White Sox opted for a three-year, $12 million deal with Keppinger, who is actually a utility man supreme. In fact, Keppinger has played twice as many games at second base (307) as he has at third (152). He even has more games at shortstop (178) than third base.

What it could mean is that while playing plenty of third base in the upcoming season, he could also loom as a second base option if Gordon Beckham goes through some prolonged struggles.

[+] EnlargeKonerko
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhPaul Konerko should see more time at DH in what could be his final season with the Sox.
FIRST BASE: This time, it could actually be Paul Konerko's last season in a White Sox uniform. The chances of Konerko re-signing, like he did after the 2005 and 2010 seasons, don't seem as strong this time. For starters, the White Sox could bid farewell to their longtime captain and hand over first base to Adam Dunn, who is signed through 2014. An eventual long-term option could end up being Dayan Viciedo. As for this season, Dunn is expected to get more playing time at first base in order to get Konerko more designated-hitter days. That plan is all in the name of getting as much offense as possible from the soon-to-be 37-year-old Konerko by keeping him as fresh as possible. Lars Anderson, claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox, figures to be destined for Triple-A Charlotte.

SECOND BASE: Welcome to another season when Beckham must prove to the White Sox that he can reach the potential that has been expected of him. Going back to 2011, though, scouts have noted that the Georgia product doesn't look as if he will ever reach the level that was projected after an impressive rookie season in 2009. The end of the 2012 season was impressive, as Beckham used a 2 -week stretch in September to deliver four home runs, 11 RBIs, a .340 batting average and a 1.116 OPS. But if he continues to post monthly batting averages under .190 like he did twice last season, the White Sox could be ready to make some changes. He's turned himself into a Gold Glove-caliber defender, but he needs to show a more all-around package.

SHORTSTOP: Alexei Ramirez has failed to continue that breakout-star buzz since signing a four-year contract extension just before spring training in 2011. He hasn't been terrible, but that dominating season that has been expected still hasn't emerged. Besides that, the Gold Glove talk he was garnering early in his career has subsided. Ramirez admitted last month that his play hasn't met his standards, calling Beckham far better on defense and saying he needs to deliver more with the bat. He's now fully healed from wrist discomfort that nagged him toward the end of last season. When Ramirez needs a day off, Keppinger is expected to slide over from third base to shortstop.

THIRD BASE: The White Sox's plan seems to be that Keppinger plays somewhere between 110 and 120 games at third. That would leave a decent amount of playing time for whoever ends up being the backup. Brent Morel is on his way from back issues and could end up getting some starts at third base with some pinch-hit assignments mixed in for good measure. But his health remains uncertain, which is why Josh Bell and Steve Tolleson will be in camp on minor-league deals. Both have played third base in the major leagues.

UTILITY ROLE: Carlos Sanchez is one of the top prospects in the organization, and is a middle infielder of the future, but it figures to be too early for his arrival at the big-league level. Angel Sanchez figures to be a better bet for that spot. He batted .320 at Triple-A last season and was expected to compete for a utility role with the Los Angeles Angels before the White Sox pried him away in the Rule 5 draft. Sanchez played 110 games for the Astros in 2011. Keppinger's ability to play multiple positions essentially makes him a full-time utility guy.

Morel rehabs, admires Youkilis

July, 20, 2012
Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel, whose back injury facilitated the acquisition of Kevin Youkilis, said Friday it's been fun to watch the impact Youkilis has had on the first-place White Sox.

Morel has been on the disabled list since May 18 and he is scheduled to begin his injury rehabilitation assignment Friday with Winston Salem.

Read the entire story.

Streaking/Slumping: Sale was mystifying

July, 13, 2012
Levine By Bruce Levine
Chris Sale/Phil HumberUS Presswire/Getty ImagesChris Sale was dominant in the first half while Phil Humber has struggled since his April perfect game.
The Chicago White Sox, who open the second half on Friday against the Kansas City Royals, got more good performances than bad in the season’s first 85 games. Here’s a look at two of the best and two of the worst:


Paul Konerko
1. Paul Konerko, 1B: OK, I get it, Konerko is only third in home runs and fifth in RBIs on his own team, but numbers alone can’t keep him off this list. Konerko led the AL in batting average for much of the first half and hit the break at .329 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs. The ability to make the routine and the difficult play on defense is only minimized by his lack of range to the right. Konerko is the heart and soul of the surprising White Sox’s first-half surge.

Chris Sale
2. Chris Sale, SP: Sale was the most dominant starting pitcher in the AL in the first half. Hitters have been mystified by Sale’s ability to change speeds on his fastball while having pinpoint control on all of his pitches (he has just 25 walks). Once again the White Sox showed they can handle young starters by using them in the bullpen one season before making them rotation pitchers. Ten wins and a league-low 2.19 ERA is testament to the tenacious way Sale goes about his business. After a 12-day rest, Sale will start on Sunday in Kansas City.


1. Brent Morel/Orlando Hudson, 3B: Third base was a trainwreck until the Sox picked up Kevin Youkilis in what appears to be the trade of the year so far in baseball. Hudson and Morel combined to hit .176 with 1 home run and 16 RBIs, and they combined for a .470 OPS. Morel was hurting from spring training on with a bad back. Hudson had never played third base and looked like it most of the time. No credit here for a good effort. That kind of stuff is for rookie ball.

Philip Humber
2. Philip Humber, SP: A strained elbow saved Humber from being dropped from the rotation. Incredibly, he pitched the 22nd perfect game in major league history in April and still made this list. Humber gave up 12 home runs in 12 starts The Sox are hoping he will come back strong in the second half when he is fully rehabbed from a right elbow strain. He was 3-4 with a 6.01 ERA before going on the DL.



Jose Abreu
.317 36 107 80
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208