Morel's sudden impact on Cubs ‘nothing but amazing'


Chris Morel drove the ball to right field, to the wall, and just kept running, eventually sliding into third.

Check that. Slid past third, a la Javy Báez, grabbed the bag, popped up and celebrated. The Cubs still trailed by one, but there were no outs and Willson Contreras coming to the plate.

The Brewers then decided they needed to meet on the mound — at which point, Morel headed toward the Cubs dugout.

No way he was being lifted for a pinch-runner. No, he just wanted to slap hands with all his buds at the dugout rail before heading back to third — and then scoring the tying run on Contreras’ double.

“It’s infectious. It’s contagious,” teammate Patrick Wisdom said. “I know I feed off of it just because he’s so positive and just fun to be around.”

For what it’s worth, Wisdom followed up in the eighth with the go-ahead home run to beat the Brewers 8-7 in this one.

But the conversation seemed to keep coming back to Morel after the game and what he’s done his first two weeks in the majors.

“He’s been nothing but amazing,” Contreras said. “He came up and he got really comfortable. He’s been himself, and that’s huge for us.”

Himself is like nobody else on the field. Exuberant. Exaggerated. Extroverted.

Extremely refreshing.

Morel has only been around for two weeks, but he’s making the kind of impression that is inspiring long-term visions.

He homered in his first big-league at-bat — first Cub to do that since Contreras in 2016.

On Tuesday, he extended his hitting streak to 11 games and reached base safely in his 14th — breaking Contreras’ franchise record to start a career.

“That’s awesome,” said Contreras, who didn’t know he had such a record. “Morel brings the energy. He brings a lot of things to the table. What I like most is he’s never mad. He’s never concerned about anything. I think that’s one thing that lets him play the way he’s playing right now.

“He deserves to stay here.”

And he’s in the right place at the right time to do that as the Cubs shift over the next few weeks into full-on long-term evaluation mode during this rebuild.

And going 15-for-53 (.283) with six extra-base hits including two homers, seven walks and an .878 OPS is a major first step in the process for Morel.

So is playing centerfield, shortstop and second base at such elite levels that manager David Ross said, “I wouldn’t doubt if he threw 99 off the bump if he just cleaned up a few things.”

What he already has become without any doubt is a fan favorite and, if possible, even more so a respected and popular teammate.

“As a young player, he’s not afraid of failing, and he’s very aggressive at the plate,” Contreras said. “He’s getting on base. He’s getting great at-bats. He doesn’t give anything away.”

That’s why he’s Ross’ preferred leadoff man just two weeks removed from Double-A Tennessee.

And the best reason to buy a ticket to a Cubs game these days this side of Contreras’ All-Star bid as he reaches the halfway point in his four-month farewell tour as a Cub, leading up to the trade deadline.

“He’s playing the game with a lot of passion — almost that saying of ‘playing with your hair on fire’ — but he’s calm in the box,” Ross said. “He’s taking his walks. But when the ball touches his bat, when he gets ready to throw the ball, when he goes after the ball, there’s a lot of electricity there.”

Electricity. Energy. Hair on fire.

And that slide.

Why does that all sound so familiar.

“On that triple there, sliding past the bag and popping up — that exact slide reminded me of Javy,” Ross said.

“They have some of the same kind of energy,” Contreras said. “But [at the same time] he’s a different person. Morel is more vocal I would say.

“He’s going to be good,” Contreras added. “This game is about adjustments. At some point they’re going to make an adjustment on him. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to be able to make those adjustments back.

“So I’m happy to have Morel on this team, and I think he deserves to stay.”

Click here to subscribe to the Cubs Talk Podcast for free.



Contact Us