NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Several thresholds must be crossed but Brent Morel appears to have another chance with the White Sox in his future -- if hes healthy.
Morel was limited to 76 games last season --- 35 in the majors --- because of a troublesome back. His injury not only limited Morels appearances but also wiped out what the White Sox hoped would be a breakout season for the Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo product.
After a September 2011 surge, Morel was limited to a .177.225.195 slash line and no home runs in 113 at-bats last season. But Morel is on the mend and the White Sox consider him among their best internal options at the hot corner next season should they not sign a free agent or acquire a replacement for Kevin Youkilis.
Thats the No. 1 thing for us, to get him in there and see him again, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. Hes not out of the equation for me at all. Him being healthy and getting back in, hes a good third baseman when hes healthy.
The White Sox believed they had a star in the making in Morel. Not only did he post a .224.340.553 slash line with eight homers and 19 RBIs in 103 appearances in the final month of the 2011 regular season, but he also is considered a solid defender.
We thought he was an everyday guy, general manager Rick Hahn said.
He might once again be, but only if he gets his back on track, Hahn said.
Thus far, reports on Morels health have been good, though Hahn knows how tricky the situation can be. Last season, Morel thought he made progress in rehabbing the injury over summer only to have a setback.
They feel with his diligence on the program that this thing is hopefully behind him, Hahn said. Its tough with backs. Its tricky. Well have to see through his ramping up, training regimen, baseball activity and spring training games and regular season games and react accordingly to how he feels.
With few viable internal options -- the White Sox prefer to keep Gordon Beckham at second base, Dayan Viciedo in left field and Carlos Sanchez at Triple-A -- Morel could be the answer should the White Sox not sign Youkilis or another free agent or make a deal.
But Hahn wants proof of health before he makes a commitment.
Its conceivable, but with Brent, lets see him healthy, Hahn said. Lets get him 100 percent. He feels good now, lets have him go through the offseason do the work to prepare, then get to Glendale and get through spring healthy. Then well set our expectations for him going forward.