Christopher Morel was sent to Iowa to get more playing time. But a laid-back Chicago Cubs clubhouse misses his exuberance. – Boston Herald


Christopher Morel brought something to the Chicago Cubs last year that couldn’t be measured with numbers.

From a bat-flipping celebration after homering in his first at-bat to hugging opposing players and fist-bumping umpires, Morel’s exuberance was impossible to ignore.

“He’s such a positive guy, and I do think with any team, bringing up guys like that really energizes the group,” Cubs President Jed Hoyer said last May.

The Cubs gave Morel playing time in center field and at second base, shortstop and third base — his preferred position — after calling him up from Double-A Tennessee. The super-utility role suited him, and he quickly became a fan favorite.

But with Cody Bellinger signed to play center, Nico Hoerner moving over to second and Morel having a difficult time defensively at third in an extended audition last September, the Cubs decided to send him to Triple-A Iowa to start the season instead of playing him sporadically off the bench.

Morel hit four home runs in spring training, but the free-swinging prospect needs to cut down his strikeouts.

“He’s a fun guy to have around, and what’s best for us and him long term is consistent at-bats,” manager David Ross said. “I thought we might be doing him a disservice by bringing him off the bench at times.

“He’s got some areas he’s got to improve. And he really put himself on the map last year doing that. But that’s a representation of the depth we have. … He’ll get off to a great start down in Triple-A and be somebody that we’ll be able to call on real soon if something were to come up.”

Ross said the crowded outfield situation at Iowa means Morel likely will spend more time in the infield. Right fielder Seiya Suzuki’s expected return from the injured list in the next week or so also factored into the Cubs’ decision to go with other options in right for the short term.

Miles Mastrobuoni, Trey Mancini and Patrick Wisdom started the first three games in right at Wrigley Field. Mastrobuoni’s lack of aggression after replacing Mancini cost the Cubs in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers when he declined to dive for a ball that fell in front of him for a two-run double.

Wisdom threw out a runner at second and hit a pair of solo home runs in Sunday’s 9-5 loss to the Brewers.

Morel homered and was 4-for-12 in his first three games with Iowa, which began its season 3-0. He still is the same player and hasn’t let the demotion affect his personality. Hoerner was sent down to Iowa to start the 2021 season, a move the Cubs eventually regretted.

Hoyer said the Cubs “don’t see (Morel) as a bench player,” so the decision wasn’t that difficult.

“The coaching staff really felt strongly that he was a really good player who we really wanted playing a lot,” Hoyer said, “and having him as a bench option isn’t the right thing for his career and probably not the right thing for the length of the season.”

How long Morel will remain at Iowa remains to be seen. But the Cubs already miss his energy and exuberance.

In a laid-back clubhouse that brought in several veterans, no one seems ready to pick up the torch.


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