GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don’t expect Brent Morel to ask White Sox video coordinator Bryan Johnson to help him find footage of at-bats from the 2012 season.
Johnson can destroy the evidence and Morel wouldn’t care.
Limited in what he could do at the plate and forced into bad habits to cope with the pain of an aching back, Morel, who said Monday he feels healthy after his first full week of activity, wants to forget everything about his performance last season. He doesn’t have plans to review any game action from a season in which he hit .177 with no homers and five RBIs in 35 games.
“I just kind of throw it out,” Morel said. “I’m different structurally now and I’m able to do things I wasn’t capable of. There’s no point to look at anything like that.”
The White Sox will take the same approach with Morel, who had previously grabbed their attention when he homered eight times in September 2011. The club knows Morel never felt right last season after he injured himself in spring training. They also know the former third-round draft pick has displayed signs he’s once again healthy after an offseason program to rehab and strengthen his lower back.
“He had no reservations,” hitting coach Jeff Manto said about his work with Morel last month. “It was the same bat speed he had in the lower minors. There was something different in his eye. He’s coming in ready to compete for a job and he’s making no secret about it.”
As long as Morel can stay healthy, the White Sox will keep an open mind about his future. Manager Robin Ventura has said no decisions have been made with regard to Morel. With Jeff Keppinger signed to primarily play third base, the team has floated the idea of moving Morel around the infield this spring to add versatility to his resume. Ventura also said he has wiped clean his memory of Morel’s at-bats last season.
“A slight injury, it just makes guys look different the way they move around,” Ventura said. “You can get into not necessarily bad habits, but they turn into bad habits, and you have unlearn them because you’re just different. … You maybe put a bat in a certain spot that doesn’t feel like that slot any more. Your stance may have to change a little bit. But he looks healthy.”
Morel admits he had to change his swing around in order to stay in the lineup last season. But no matter how much he did, he couldn’t do everything he was capable of before which led to more adjustments, some of which were bad. Any of those habits, however, have been erased.
“It was just the limitations on my body,” Morel said. “I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and then the pain took over. I definitely created bad habits while I was playing, but those are all gone now. The swing feels completely different. I don’t think those are going to stick with me.”
He hopes the same holds true for the pain.
Morel said he hasn’t had to worry thus far after he spent part of the winter in San Francisco strengthening his back. After a week of action, including working in cleats, Morel is comfortable. He also feels like he knows how to address it should any issues arise.
“I feel really good,” Morel said. “(The program) was really intense. I found what responded and hopefully it doesn’t come back again. I’ve got a handle on it and I know how to take care of it. It’s nice to get a fresh year whether you’re healthy or not. It’s always nice to come into spring and forget about it and get that new start.”