Versatile Morel comes through again in Cubs' win
One day after becoming the first Cub in 90 years to record 5 hits out of the ninth spot in the order, Christopher Morel moved back to lead off Friday against Boston.
The rookie also played second base and center field during the Cubs' 6-5 victory over the Red Sox.
Manager David Ross loves the versatility Morel provides, both at the plate and in the field.
"You feel like it's a one-man bench. You can move him around," said Ross, who has played Morel 31 times in the outfield, 13 times at second base, three times at third and twice at shortstop. "It's fun for me to mix and match the best we can. That is really valuable in today's game."
Morel exploded on the scene by reaching base in his first 22 games, a franchise record. From June 17-28, however, Morel was just 8-for-44 (.182) while walking twice and striking out 22 times.
Ross dropped Morel to the No. 9 slot on Wednesday and Thursday, and the 23-year-old responded by going 7-for-9 with 4 RBI and 5 runs scored.
Morel went 1-for-5 with a huge 2-run homer in the sixth inning Friday. It was his third straight game with a HR.
He also helped turn a sharp 6-4-3 double play in the fourth inning, and made a spectacular diving stop behind second base in the sixth. His throw was off line, however, allowing Trevor Story to reach on a single.
"It's always nice to watch guys come (out) the other side of some struggles," Ross said. "Did a really nice job working. The credit goes to the player always, but our (coaches) put in a lot of work with him. He kind of hit that reset button and has been really good for the last couple games."
For the record, pitcher Vic Aldridge was the last Cubs No. 9 hitter to record 5 hits. He accomplished the feat on May 6, 1922.
Morel is now hitting .281 on the season with 8 HRs and 23 RBI.
"He's a young kid," said closer David Robertson. "He's had a couple tough games where he's been punched out two or three times or (gone) 0-fer.
"But you know what? He comes to the field happy, smiling and ready to go the next day. He's excited to be here and he's the future of this club."
• David Ross said it was a "good day" for Seiya Suzuki on Thursday as the injured outfielder went 2-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBI in a rehab start for Triple-A Iowa. Suzuki has been out since May 26 with a left ring finger sprain. He was in the Iowa lineup again Friday as the DH.
• Pitchers Marcus Stroman (right shoulder inflammation) and Drew Smyly (right oblique strain) threw bullpen sessions Friday.
• David Bote, who left Thursday's game with left shoulder soreness after colliding with Nico Hoerner, is "a little sore," according to Ross. He did not play Friday and is day-to-day.
• Frank Schwindel (low back strain) took 40 swings in the batting cage Friday.