Manto thinks Morel has recovered

Manto thinks Morel has recovered
February 7, 2013, 3:45 pm
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The signs White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto recently saw from Brent Morel lead him to believe the third baseman has recovered.

Morel, who was limited to 35 games because of a back injury in 2012, displayed the same bat speed he had in the minor leagues to Manto when the two worked together in Chicago late last month.

The White Sox would love if Morel regains the promise he showed when he blasted eight home runs in his final 85 at-bats of the 2011 season. Morel hit .177 and had five RBIs in 113 at-bats last season.

“He looked great. He had no reservations with the bat,” Manto said during a conference call Thursday. “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.”

Morel faces strong competition for the starting third base job after the White Sox signed free agent Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal this offseason. Manto believes Keppinger is the team’s most versatile hitter.

Manto and assistant hitting coach Harold Baines’ two-day workout at U.S. Cellular Field also included catcher Tyler Flowers and second baseman Gordon Beckham. Manto said the team devised a plan for Flowers this winter and he has continued to show progress. The coaches also liked what they saw from Beckham, who carried a .792 OPS after Sept. 1.

“He looks good, he’s on his feet and legs. He’s confident,” Manto said.

Manto also said he plans to add a leg kick to Dayan Viciedo’s approach to help the outfielder adjust his timing at the plate.

The White Sox open spring training on Tuesday when pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. and hold their first workout. Position players report to camp on Feb. 17.