By Paul LaTour
Third baseman Brent Morel received some good news Tuesday -- he does not need surgery. Time is all that is needed for Morels ailing lower back that forced the White Sox to place him on the 15-day disabled list.
The lumbar strain injury was originally believed to be a disk issue, which would have required surgery and a much longer stay on the DL.
This is really good news, Morel said prior to Wednesdays game against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. This injury is never operated on, and can be controlled really easily in the training room. Its nothing long term, which is nice.
Morel, who hasnt played since May 17, had an MRI done May 10 that showed a bulging disk. But Morel said doctors reviewed the MRI when he wasnt responding to the treatment for the disk, and discovered that wasnt the problem.
The injury has nagged Morel since spring training, but he would not blame it for his poor start to the season. He is hitting .177 in 35 games with only five RBI and two extra-base hits (both doubles).
Im not going to say its affected me too much, Morel said. When Im in there I feel like I can play. I dont know how much correlation this has had.
After a few days of trying new exercises that will target strengthening the lower back, Morel said hell get back to hitting and go from there regarding his return to the lineup.
In the meantime, Orlando Hudson appears to be the choice to replace him at third. Hudson joined the Sox on Tuesday, and made a late-inning appearance in a 9-2 loss to the Twins, his former team.
Hudson is making his first career start at third in tonights game.
I have to make sure I catch the ball, and keep the pitcher on the mound, Hudson said. I dont want to be out there booting balls and throwing balls away. I want to keep the ball in front of me and make the play.
Hudson had an incident-free debut Tuesday. He entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, and later hit a single and scored Chicagos second run. He only fielded one ball, throwing out Jamey Carroll at first.
Part of that was to get him out there and get his feet wet, said manager Robin Ventura, who sported a Chicago Police Department cap as he addressed reporters before the game. The White Sox are honoring the CPD tonight for the work they did during the NATO meetings. (Hudson) looks fine over there. He came in and had an aggressive at-bat. Thats part of bringing a guy in. He wants to prove himself, and hes going to get that shot.
Despite his vast experience at third, Ventura said he doesnt plan to offer hands-on advice to Hudson on any of the intricacies of the position.
Im too old to go over there and tutor anybody, Ventura said, laughing.
As for Morel, Ventura, a former third baseman himself, said the injury isnt something to worry about too much.
Every third baseman has back problems, Ventura said. I had them. You learn to deal with them and take care of it. If it was something structural, that would be different.