PHOENIX -- For the last month the White Sox have talked about how a now-healthy Brent Morel has a different look to him.
On Thursday the statement took on new meaning as Morel stepped in to play shortstop, a ploy manager Robin Ventura plans to research this spring.
Regularly a third baseman, Morel had only one chance in the field in his three-inning stint at short against the Milwaukee Brewers. But it doesn’t mean he’s uncomfortable.
“It's not too different for me,” said Morel, who was limited to 35 games last season with a back injury. “I played in college. I think I played about 25 games or so in Triple-A when I was coming up. It's fun to get out there though. It's a little different, more stuff to do. It's nice.”
Since he worked out in Chicago last month before SoxFest, Morel has had Ventura and his coaches of the belief he no longer suffers from back pain that sabotaged his 2012 campaign.
Ventura often talks about how Morel looks like a different hitter at the plate, how he moves easily. In the first week of camp, Ventura also said he wants to give Morel a better chance to make the roster and intended to try him at shortstop.
The opportunity finally arrived in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers and it’s not a one-time thing, Ventura said.
“Just moving him around,” Ventura said. “Giving guys options of versatility and seeing what he can do when he's out there. Give him some opportunities out there. We went to him and he's done it before in the past; in the minor leagues, as well as second base. With all the guys competing for jobs it's good to be able to have a little versatility like that.”
Morel only had one chance in three innings. An infield single off the bat of Jean Segura forced Morel to range far to his left and the ball scooted off the tip of his glove after he dove.
But Morel has also taken a few grounders at shortstop in batting practice and looks forward to his next opportunity.
“I don't think it's something that needs to be a lot of work or anything,” Morel said. “Just work on some double plays and that's about it.”
The more important aspect of the scenario is it’s just another sign Morel’s back is back. He hopes to return to the team’s radar when he blasted eight home runs in September 2011. And he’s willing to play any position if it helps his chances.
“If they want me to play other positions and that's going to get me to break camp and on that 25-man roster then I'll do anything,” Morel said. “(The back) feels great. It's nice to feel it myself, but then to see the feedback from all the coaches and teammates. It's nice to hear that feedback and nice to know all that work in the off season’s paying off.”