Brent Morel might not be back for long, but he plans to enjoy the experience any way.
The White Sox promoted Morel from Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday to take the place of Conor Gillaspie, who was placed on the paternity list. Gillaspie’s wife, Amanda, is expecting the birth of the couple’s first child. While the promotion might not last long, Morel isn’t worried about the future. He’s more excited about being back in the majors and starting for the first time since May 2012.
Morel, who started at third base on Wednesday, was one of the team’s final cuts this spring.
“It's really nice,” Morel said. “Not making the team (out of spring training) was kind of disappointing, but to go down there and play well and be back here now it's really encouraging. ... They told me yesterday that Conor's wife was having a baby and ‘You're going to be here for we don't know how long.’ Just really excited to get in there tonight. I'm not too worried about the long term right now.”
After a miserable 2012 season full of back pain, Morel has rebounded nicely at Charlotte this season. He’s hitting .280 with five home runs and 40 RBIs in 66 games. He has been even better in June with a .301/.379/.410 slash line and a homer and 15 RBIs in 22 games.
That comes after Morel impressed the team in spring and showed them he could once again handle the rigors of playing every day. But with Jeff Keppinger signed over the winter and the February acquisition of Gillaspie, Morel’s path to the majors was effectively blocked.
“It’s not an easy road for him, either,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Once we got Kep, you get a guy like Gillaspie who is left-handed, it made him the odd man out. But he has gone to Triple-A, gotten healthy and played well. For us, if we’re missing that combination of guy, he’s the guy you call on. It’s a credit to him to work at it and be at the top of the list in case something came up.”
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As for the opportunity to play Wednesday, Morel is pretty happy, even if it’s just a cameo appearance.
“I couldn't ask for anything more,” Morel said.
Konerko out again
Paul Konerko didn’t start for a second straight night Wednesday with back stiffness. Ventura said Konerko is available to pinch hit but hopes to give him the two games off, which means he’d have off four in a row before Friday’s doubleheader.
Ventura suggests that Konerko’s back pain is just another one of the costs of aging.
Konerko is second all-time in franchise history with 2,126 games played.
“Everybody goes through this,” Ventura said. “If you’re fortunate to get to that point where he’s at then some days aren’t as easy as others. He does a lot to keep himself in shape and do stuff. It’s just, nature does run its course as far as physical stuff and that’s going to happen. It’s worth it. I don’t think he’d change it. It’s just something that happens, and he’s one of the fortunate ones it’s been able to happen to.”
Ventura does miss having Konerko’s bat in the lineup. Konerko is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with a homer, five RBIs and four runs during a seven-game hitting streak.
-- Ventura doesn’t know what order his starters will pitch in Friday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, but he did confirm that Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago would start. He also said the team is likely to promote a long relief pitcher as its 26th player for the doubleheader.
-- Triple-A catcher Josh Phegley and starting pitcher Andre Rienzo were selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game next month at Citi Field. Phegley is hitting .314 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs in 55 games. Rienzo is 5-5 with a 5.33 ERA in 77 2/3 innings.
-- The White Sox are offering $15 outfield tickets for Friday’s doubleheader to anyone wearing Blackhawks gear. First pitch for game one is 4:10 p.m. The second game will start shortly after the first concludes. The offer is for Friday only and tickets can only be purchased at U.S. Cellular Field.