Chicago White Sox: Brent Morel's Back Has Been an Issue for Some Time

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IMay 23, 2012

Brent Morel is getting some time to recover from a nagging back injury.
Brent Morel is getting some time to recover from a nagging back injury.Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel has some downtime to rediscover whatever stroke the baseball gods instilled in him back in September of 2011. The forces responsible for last fall's surge can come back anytime, but Morel might also call a good chiropractor first.

The team placed Morel on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Friday, with a lumbar back strain. The injury kept him out of last weekend's action against the Cubs and is just piling onto Morel's early troubles in 2012. It also has been nagging at him since the season got underway.

Robin Ventura confirmed that Wednesday in a report from's Scott Merkin:

Yeah, it started a little bit in Spring Training. You saw his swing kind of slow down and then you could see it going that way. Then it seemed like he was doing OK and you could see it when he'd get in the cage every once in a while. In Cleveland, we noticed it again so we just got to get a handle on it.

An MRI done on May 10 showed a bulging disc. If Morel has been dealing with back problems throughout the spring, it would help account for his poor showing with the bat.

After hitting just .178 in April, Morel will end May in an even worse funk. In 14 game this month, he hit just .175. None of his seven hits in that span were for extra bases. So far this season, he's striking out in nearly a third of his plate appearances.

After eight homers in his last 26 games in 2011, he has yet to send a ball over the fence.

Morel's not getting hits. He's not driving in runs. Despite a slightly better eye with seven walks (he had none at this point last season), his on-base percentage is .225, besting only reserve Eduardo Escobar of Chicago's position players.

Sounds like a good time to get him out of the lineup and try to address his back issues.

The light-hitting Escobar has been Morel's main replacement. Brent Lillibridge was at third Sunday at Wrigley Field, and newly-signed Orlando Hudson was a late substitution as Escobar slid to second in Tuesday's 9-2 loss to Minnesota.

Morel is eligible to return to action June 2, but that doesn't appear to be a sure thing. Morel could spend a larger portion of his second full season on the trainer's table.

It's anyone's guess how Ventura is going to divide the playing time at the hot corner for the next two weeks. Maybe he'll start taking some grounders at practice. Of course that's not going to happen, but It won't take a lot of pop to replicate the offensive production Morel's offered in the first two months.