Brent Morel's defense was the major reason he was given the starting third base job coming out of spring training. Then the rookie made six errors in his first 27 games.
Morel was steady during the month of June and has made more than his share of difficult plays. Friday's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field was his 30th in a row without an error.
"Thank you,'' Morel said when told that his defense has not gone unnoticed. "I'm feeling good, getting my work in early and it's translating over to my play in the game,'' he said.
Morel was on the front end of two of the Sox' three double plays that were turned in the first three innings Saturday, although the Sox caught a break on the DP in the second when second baseman Gordon Beckham appeared to be off the bag. Cubs manager Mike Quade argued and was ejected after the play.
Morel went into Saturday's game against the Cubs with a .251 average, and, because of only two walks, a team-low .265 on-base percentage among position players. He walked for the third time this season against Cubs starter Matt Garza in the first inning.
"I've always had a lower total of walks,'' Morel said before the game. "I'm low walk, low strikeout guy. It's nothing I am too worried about. If I get more comfortable and have better at-bats, I'm sure they'll come.''
Morel likes batting second, he said, because Juan Pierre has been getting on base more puts pressure on pitchers and having the middle of the lineup behind him should give him better pitches to hit. With Pierre on the run from first base in the sixth inning, he completed the hit-and-run execution with a single to right field.
"I'm not changing my approach too much [batting second],'' he said. "I don't think where you hit in the lineup matters too much.''
"He's doing more than we thought he was going to do,'' Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's played great third base, learning the process. The reason I put him batting second, I think this kid can be a good second hitter in the future because he can move the ball around. He can do a lot of things well at the top of the lineup.
"Too bad we not hitting as a club the way we thought we going to hit but this kid's got a chance to be a pretty good ball player.''