HOUSTON The Chicago White Sox lineup is falling into place as the club gets closer to Fridays opener against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
Rookie manager Robin Ventura, an Arroyo Grande resident, said Tuesday night that third baseman Brent Morel, a former Cal Poly standout, likely would hit second in the batting order, with A.J. Pierzynski batting fifth behind cleanup hitter Paul Konerko.
(Morel) is pretty confident at the plate, going deeper into the count, hitting the ball the other way, Ventura said before Morel faced Astros pitcher and former Cal Poly teammate Bud Norris in Tuesdays spring training game. A.J. can do that, too, but he has had a pretty good spring swinging the bat, and knocking in runs.
Ventura senses its more important to have Adam Dunn, Konerko and Pierzynski hitting in succession so Dunn and Konerko would have protection behind them, although he does like having a mix of left-handed and right-handed hitters in the top half of the order.
Former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen projected Morel, 24, as a future No. 2 hitter, and Morel struck out only 57 times as a rookie in 2010. This spring, he has displayed the ability to hit to all fields.
Were all happy to get it going, said Morel, who batted .317 this spring. Everyone feels its long, but its what we needed to have enough at-bats and time on defense to be prepared to go on opening day.
Last season, Morel hit .245 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI. He is the first former Cal Poly non-pitcher to be an every-day starter since Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.
One of the keys to the offense could be if Pierzynski is as productive driving in runs as he was this spring, when he had 11 RBI with four home runs in 47 at-bats.