More Morel: Sox rookie secures the hot corner

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More Morel: Sox rookie secures the hot corner

Friday, Oct. 1, 2010
Updated 11:33 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen pulls no punches when it comes to his opinion of September call-upsbelieve me, I dont need to see anyone.

And after an initial encouraging glimpse, that includes even the one player who made his major-league debut last month whos wowed the White Sox skipper with his all-around play, third baseman Brent Morel.

Believe me, I know that Morel is a big-league player, Guillen said. Hes going to be there for good. Hes been playing for a month, and I love the way he plays.

The unassuming third sacker is taking little for granted, even Guillens glowing praise.

I dont really look too far into that, Morel said. Im just thankful for the opportunity to be up here right now, getting a chance to play every day, letting em see what I can do. I dont think it really matters how I do this year. Its just them getting a feel of me and how I play, and just going into spring training on Day One ready to compete.

True to his skippers confidence, however, Morel was one of the lone bright spots in Friday nights 7-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, rapping his third home run of the season off of the left-field foul pole in the second and continuing to flash outstanding leather at the hot corner, robbing Matt LaPorta of a single in the fifth with a diving stop and pinpoint throw.

Morel has shown some significant pop in his short stint in the majors, with five extra-base hits (two doubles, three dingers) of his 13 hits helping swell his slugging percentage to .414.

I never experienced a day in the big leagues until now, and Im getting comfortable by the day, Morel said. You want to take every at-bat like its your last, and just go out there and fight no matter what the situation is.

The 23-year-old tells no lies; hes now hitting .313 with three RBI on this final homestand.

The night was ripe for a member of the White Sox youth movement to excel, as Guillen ran out several newbies at once for the first time since Chicago was eliminated from the playoff race. Only Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel and Mark Kotsay were carried over from the regular season lineup, as rookies Morel, Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers hit the field along with youngsters Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge.

Lillibridge and Flowers took the collar Friday night, while Viciedo and De Aza contributed a combined three hits and two RBI. But its Morel who has impressed enough to be christened next seasons starter with just 19 games and three weeks of action under his belt.

Morel is batting just .224 after a 1-for-4 effort on Friday, but Guillen continues to rave over how he fights through all of his plate appearances. And for a defense-first manager, the way the rookie throws the leather alone would give him the inside track to 2011s hot corner job.

Meanwhile, in the withering pain that was Fridays game, Tony Penas third start was his worst. Despite taking the mound sporting a stingy 0.93 ERA vs. Cleveland in his career, Pena was pummeled by the Wahoos young lineup, surrendering nine hits and six earned runs in six innings. His general excellence in spot starts and extended relief outings aside, it would be assumed that Penas future as a White Sox starter likely ended on Friday. However, Guillen was forgiving, attributing the rough ride for Pena to anxiousness and inexperience.

The White Sox rallied in the ninth, scoring once, but their momentum fizzled under the weight of strikeouts from Morel and Lillibridge, and the Wahoos pocketed their seventh straight win, the teams longest in more than two seasons.

Even with the late-inning K, Guillen kept raining sun down on his rookie at the hot corner, repeating whats now a seasons-end mantra: Morel continues to impress at the plate and at third base.

In fact, Guillens smile is breaking as wide as the Kool-Aid Mans, an oddity especially in light of a winnable contest rendered a runaway: The only bad thing about this game is that we didnt win.

Whether Guillen is providing his rookies a soft spot to land or prepping himself for a sentimental Sunday that could mark the final White Sox games for World Series vets Paul Konerko, Freddy Garcia, A.J. Pierzynski and Bobby Jenks, its difficult to tell. But expect Shiny Happy Ozzie to return to U.S. Cellular Field Saturday for the middle game of this season-ending set, with encouraging words to burn.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez helps father celebrate his birthday in style with first home run

Omar Narvaez’s teammates gave him a beer shower after he blasted the first home run of his career on Friday night.

But the rookie catcher said it wasn’t the best gift he gave or received in a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins. Narvaez’s father, Omar, was in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field and celebrating his birthday when he son blasted a 377-foot drive to right field.

“It was great, especially because it was my dad’s birthday today,” Narvaez said. “It’s a very special gift for my dad. That’s what I was thinking as I was running the bases. It’s the best thing I could do this day.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Narvaez, who hails from Maracay, Aragua, Venezuela, said his family has been in town all week to see him play. His fourth-inning homer off Twins pitcher Pat Dean put the White Sox ahead 6-0. Narvaez -- who has seven minor-league homers, including two at Triple-A Charlotte this season -- homered in his 111th plate appearance in the big leagues.

“That was awesome,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I’ve been waiting a while because I know he’s got that pop. Took him a little bit, but I was happy for him.”

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

Young White Sox players star in win over Twins

The word electric was used multiple times to describe several young White Sox players on Friday night and it wasn’t hyperbole.

Carlos Rodon tied an American League record with seven consecutive strikeouts to start a 7-3 White Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field and Tim Anderson was an all-around force. Anderson turned several double plays and finished a double shy of the cycle and Rodon, who was coming off the best start of his career, struck out 10 to close out a stellar second half. Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez also blasted the first home run of his big league career in the victory.

“This was some electric stuff coming out,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would say the first seven hitters were better than (Sunday’s start). He just, it looked like his confidence and end of the year, letting it out. It was definitely the best stuff-wise of having it all -- fastball, slider, mix in a change. I think that’s just a big confidence boost for him of getting to that point where he can do that.”

Where Rodon is now compared with 2 1/ 2 months ago is vastly different. Frustrated by a 2-7 start and a sprained wrist sustained when he fell in the dugout, Rodon was about as low as he’s been in his two seasons in the majors. But the North Carolina State-product vowed to treat the second half like an entirely different season when he returned from his injury and he has done just that.

Featuring a fastball that topped 99-mph, according to brooksbaseball.net, and with his wipeout slider in tow, Rodon quickly looked in control against the Twins. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings. Only two of his first seven strikeouts came via called third strikes.

Rodon’s third-inning whiff of John Ryan Murphy moved him into a tie for the team and AL record with ex-White Sox hurler Joe Cowley, who struck out the first seven he faced in a May 28, 1986 loss at the Texas Rangers. Coupled with the three strikeouts to end Sunday’s start in Cleveland (part of 11 overall), Rodon’s 10 straight strikeouts between the two games matched the most by a major league pitcher since Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne did it in 2003.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Narvaez said. “The slider was perfect today. He was at his best today.”

Rodon was only slowed down by a 31-pitch sixth inning as he allowed three runs (two earned). He yielded three hits, walked three and struck out 10 to improve to 7-3 with a 3.45 ERA since the All-Star break. The left-hander struck out 77 batters in 73 innings from July 31st through the end of the season.

“It’s easy to play behind him because it makes my job a lot easier when he’s striking out people,” Anderson said.

Rodon feels the same about the way Anderson has played since he arrived in the majors in June. The rookie shortstop continues to excel even though he has never played more in a season than he in 2016.  

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Anderson headed into the eighth inning with a chance to complete the cycle. Needing only a double after he tripled and homered in his first two at-bats, Anderson grounded out and finished 3-for-5.

He turned on his speed when he tripled off the glove of Byron Buxton in the first inning and scored on Melky Cabrera’s RBI double. Anderson flashed his power when he blasted his ninth home run in the third, a two-run shot that traveled 410 feet. And used his glove and arm to turn several nice plays in the field.

“He’s electric,” Rodon said. “Just watching him develop over this few months here, it’s been incredible. Making those plays in the hole and just swinging the bat great. That’s a guy our team can feed off of when he’s in the lineup.”