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Morel takes advantage of infield versatility

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In Saturday afternoon's 4-0 victory over the Reds, Brent Morel handled two chances flawlessly at shortstop. For Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Padres in Peoria, he was back to his more customary third-base position.

Morel likes that the team is giving him a chance to keep all options open. But his primary goal remains to break camp as the White Sox starting third baseman.

"Like I said, it's my mindset, it has to be," said Morel of keeping third base as his focus. "But when it comes down to it, I'm up for anything to make the team.

"I mean it feels good and I like it out there [at short]," added Morel. "A lot more moving around and stuff, it's fun."

All but two of the White Sox position player roster spots appear to be set, with Hector Gimenez and Dewayne Wise locked in off the bench. Rule 5 Draft selection Angel Sanchez has the edge for the utility infield spot, having played 108 of his 149 big league games at shortstop.

There's a chance Morel and Sanchez could break camp with the team, but with the left-handed-hitting Conor Gillaspie looking sharp at the plate and the White Sox needing another left-handed bat, it would seem to be a two-for-one roster spot battle. And that equation doesn't factor in outfielder Jordan Danks or any other surprise candidate.

Alexei Ramirez has played no fewer than 148 games at shortstop since taking over as the starter, and has played 156, 155 and 158, respectively, over the past three years. The primary utility infielder might not be called on frequently, but still is desired to be a shortstop first. Jeff Keppinger, who is penciled as the starting third baseman, actually has played more games at shortstop than at third in his career (178-to-152), and Gillaspie has never played at shortstop as a pro.

But a healthy Morel needs to continue to show versatility beyond third to have a chance at the Opening Day roster.

"The main [difference] is just the instincts of not waiting on the ball," said Morel. "Like at third, you just kind of catch it. There aren't too many ground balls at third where you have to charge. I had one yesterday where I mean, I got the guy. It's something I probably need to come get it a little more.

"It's similar throws and positioning ... sometimes the speed of the runner plays more of a factor that it does at third base."