CHICAGO -- Brent Morel took infield on Sunday morning and added in batting practice as he continues to work his way back from the lumbar back strain that placed him on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 18. Morel looked smooth in the field, as third base coach Joe McEwing hit him grounders and manager Robin Ventura and bench coach Mark Parent looked on.
"I feel perfectly normal," Morel said. "Just getting my conditioning back, getting my arm back in shape. I feel ready to go."
Morel had a cortisone shot on May 10 for what was thought to be a bulging disk. But the injury was pinpointed to the facet joint around the disk following a physical exam, which Morel explained as sort of like the knuckle, and the more specific treatment has paid dividends.
"It's completely different now," said Morel, who went five days without doing anything but icing the pain before returning to workouts that included flips the last two days. "It feels way better, so hopefully it just continues to feel like this."
A Minor League rehab trip could begin as soon as Wednesday, in Morel's mind.
Manto: Home runs a product of good approach
CHICAGO -- Over the last four games, White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto has looked like an offensive genius.
That kind of tag comes about when your offense produces 46 runs, as the South Siders have done in that span. The White Sox also have pounded out 11 home runs in the four games, marking a sign of the weather heating up in Chicago and the ball really traveling in hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.
But Manto, much like his predecessor Greg Walker, wants the White Sox to be good hitters with home run power instead of looking to be home run hitters.
"We definitely monitor that," said Manto of a focus on the long ball. "Yesterday's plan was not to hit any because Derek Lowe has such a good sinker. Just try to drive the ball. They are experienced enough to know when they can and can't. It worked out yesterday. Once we got Lowe out, we were able to get some pitches elevated.
"It's all part of the same approach. We aren't going to change our approach at Fenway or Baltimore. We are not going to try to punch balls to right field in New York. Once we get out of our comfort area, that's when we start swinging at bad pitches and just grinding ourselves right back into the ground again.
"The thing I'll have to watch and monitor is making sure these guys are doing the same thing day in and day out," Manto said. "It's a matter of being patient and just waiting for the opportune time."
In the month of May, the White Sox are hitting .272 with 37 homers and 143 runs scored, not to mention a much improved .295 average with runners in scoring position. Over the last 13 games since May 14, the White Sox are hitting .310 with 27 homers and 93 runs scored and have 11 games of 10 hits or more. They also have homered in 13 straight games, producing 27 total. They hit .226 with 13 homers and 60 runs scored in their previous 17 games from April 26-May 13.
As for the temporary genius status, Manto laughs and puts the credit upon his charges.
"I don't get too high or too low," Manto said. "I'm happier for the players than anything else. When you start coaching, you start caring about these players and I'm happy for them."
Konerko knows flirtation with .400 unlikely to last
CHICAGO - Paul Konerko exited Sunday's 12-6 victory over the Indians with a robust .399 average, which is tops in the Majors. Even with the 36-year-old getting better with age, Konerko has never hit higher than .313 in a single season, so this flirtation with .400 doesn't figure to last.
"I've got 13 years in the big leagues that says I'm probably not going to hit .400," said Konerko after his 2-for-4 showing in the team's fifth straight win.
Konerko actually doesn't believe anyone in baseball can reach that elusive .400 plateau in the current climate.
"Probably not. No way," Konerko said. "The only way I could see it happening is if a guy has one of those years where he was hurt the whole year but just qualified.
"There's too much good pitching. Too many factors involved that would be working against you. If Ichiro hasn't done it during his career, and he probably had the best shot, because he could run and is left-handed, just an unbelievable hitter and could hit everything. If he hasn't done it, I'm saying it won't be done. When he was right in the middle there [of his career], it was like if he couldn't do it, then nobody could."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura agreed with Konerko's Ichiro theory when asked about hitting .400 pregame on Sunday. Ventura added that Konerko's numbers are that much more amazing because he doesn't have close to the speed possessed by a player like Ichiro. In fact, Konerko has very little speed at all.
"He's not getting those ones where he tops them in the infield and gets a hit out of it," said Ventura of Konerko. "Everything he gets is reaching the outfield. Whatever he hits is what he's hitting. He's not getting any gifts."
"I think just maybe worry about yourself," said Konerko, explaining his preparatory philosophy and stressing again the need to put in his daily work and stick to a plan. "Get your body into a good position to hit. If it looks good to hit, let it fly and trust your work will hold up. That's it."
Danks feels improvement after soft toss
CHICAGO -- The soft toss thrown by John Danks prior to Sunday's series finale at U.S. Cellular Field served as a good baseline for the left-hander to figure out where he's at in regard to his shoulder strain.
"It felt better than it did a few days ago, so that's a good sign," said Danks, who was placed on the disabled list prior to Friday's contest. "I didn't want to cut it loose, I didn't want to push it too much.
"But it was definitely a positive. It felt good and we're making improvement. My goal is to try and get on my regular side routine and hopefully stay in good enough shape that I can come back in 15 days and pitch."
Danks would be eligible to return from the disabled list on June 4, which is an off-day, but he hopes to move back into the rotation without a Minor League rehab assignment. His plan was to play catch again Monday in Tampa and then try to stay where he was with his side routine as the pain subsides.
"I was feeling it kind of down my arm and that's gone," said Danks, who still feels it a little bit in his shoulder. "So I guess that means it's getting better."
Renewed confidence has Viciedo thriving in all areas
CHICAGO -- According to White Sox manager Robin Ventura, the key word for Dayan Viciedo's emergence has been confidence -- all over the field.
"Some of it is being here and some of it is going to left field. For me both of those things go hand and hand," said Ventura of Viciedo, who is hitting .412 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 13 games. "He's very comfortable in left and he's made big strides getting to balls, routes and throwing the ball.
"That in turn made him more comfortable at the plate and now it's a confidence thing. You can tell when he's in here ready to go out, he has a plan and feels like he can get a hit."