CHICAGO -- After being placed on the disabled list Tuesday with what was described as a lumbar strain, White Sox third baseman Brent Morel received a bit of good news.
Morel definitely won't need surgery for what was diagnosed as a bulging disc after a MRI on May 10. A physical exam on Tuesday showed the issue to be centered more on the facet joint around the disc, according to Morel, which he explained as sort of like the knuckle. So after it calms down, the problem is something the White Sox trainers and Morel can stay on top of easier than imagined.
"My pain is more extension, so if I was to bend back or when I get in a ready position [on defense], and it's more ... called something like the facet or the knuckle around the disc, which is really good news," Morel said. "They were happy to find that out.
"It's never operated on. It can be controlled very easily in the training room, and by calming it down. I met with [White Sox general manager] Kenny [Williams] and the trainers and the doctors, and they were really encouraged."
Morel will begin new back exercises on Thursday, and he's going to take four or five days strictly with those. Then he'll start hitting and throwing, eventually go for a couple of Minor League rehab games and hopefully be back soon.
Getting manager Robin Ventura's endorsement as the incumbent starter, despite the injury, was more good news for Morel. He won't use the injury as an excuse for his miserable start, and Ventura expects Morel to bounce back when healthy.
"A lot of it will get blown out of proportion," Ventura said. "Every third baseman has back problems. I had them, and you learn to deal with them and take care of it.
"If it was something that was structural, that would be different. But what it is now it sounds like what guys go through that normally play third base. I'm looking for him to get healthy and get back out there."
Rios frustrated by power outage
CHICAGO -- Alex Rios has been suffering through a season-long power outage, and even with a two-run homer coming in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 6-0 win over the Twins, that lack of extra-base production has become a bit frustrating for the White Sox right fielder.
"I'm not driving the ball the way I wanted, and I couldn't tell you why that's not happening," Rios said. "I've been concerned a little bit about my home runs and extra base hits.
"It's something I would like to improve. I'm not a big home run guy, but I can hit plenty of doubles in years before. Hopefully I get it sooner than later."
Rios has 120 career home runs, 258 doubles and 44 triples over parts of nine seasons. But in 2012, Rios has just two homers and six doubles, although he does lead the team with three triples.
After 2011's debacle, where Rios batted .227 with 13 homers and 22 doubles, the right-handed hitting Rios came into this past Spring Training focused on taking more pitches up the middle or to the opposite field. But Rios is a natural pull hitter, and could return more to that approach in order to pick up the extra-base pace.
"The reason I started looking to hit the ball the other way was to stay more closed with my stance," Rios said. "I'm a guy that usually, I open up a lot with my shoulders and my upper body. I was just trying to stay away from that. It helped me a little bit, but not in a way I really wanted.
"Like I said, I want to drive the ball. It's not that I don't like hits. I just like to run the bases a lot."
There have just been two seasons where Rios topped 20 homers, including 2010 with the White Sox. So, he's not looking to put up Adam Dunn or Paul Konerko numbers.
Knocking out somewhere around 20 homers, with 30 doubles and 80 RBIs would be ideal for a middle of the order hitter.
"Those are the numbers I would feel comfortable with," Rios said. "I know I'm not going to hit probably 30, 40 or 50 homers. But if I can hit doubles and a couple of triples here and there, and a few more homers, that's the kind of game I would enjoy the most."
Rios started down that path in his second at-bat Wednesday night, when he cranked a two-run homer to left field.
Hudson ready for first start at third
CHICAGO -- Based on manager Robin Ventura's pregame comments, Orlando Hudson will be going from no big league experience at third base to the White Sox starting third baseman until Brent Morel returns. Hudson did actually get in at third during the eighth inning of Tuesday's 9-2 loss to the Twins by design, and handled his one chance -- Jamey Carroll's grounder -- flawlessly.
"I said, 'Lord, please, just give me that ground ball, make sure it's not too hot. A nice little roller so I can get my feet under myself,'" said a smiling Hudson of his third-base debut. "A grounder is a grounder, man, whether it's second base, third base or shortstop."
Ventura liked Hudson's aggressive at-bat in the ninth that produced his first White Sox hit. Hudson, meanwhile, simply wants to keep the ball in front of him and make plays behind his pitcher.
That goal was fulfilled during Wednesday's 6-0 White Sox win over the Twins. Hudson made two slick plays, including a barehanded pickup of Ryan Doumit's slow roller and perfect strike to first to nail Doumit by a step in the second inning.
"It was fun," Hudson said. "But I have a long way to go. Just keep working at it."
"He looks fine over there," said Ventura of Hudson. "He wants to show what he's got and prove himself and get that shot."
Reed all about it: Addison is closer
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura admitted before Wednesday's game that Addison Reed has become his closer. It wasn't exactly a well-kept secret with four of Reed's last six outings producing saves.
"He's earned that, and I feel comfortable putting him in there," said Ventura of his top-notch rookie. "That's who we'd be using if we're winning.
"Some nights he's up at 98 and some nights he's 96, but he's still pretty good. Even when you look at him and think he didn't have it, he's got it."
Reed told MLB.com over the weekend that he basically gets ready to pitch any time after the fifth. But he didn't try to hide the fact of wanting that ninth inning. Now, he'll have the consistent opportunities.
"From Spring Training on, every time you hand him the ball, he's not overwhelmed by any situation," Ventura said.
White Sox honor Chicago Police Department
CHICAGO -- Members of the Chicago Police Department were honored at Wednesday's contest for their exceptional service during the recent NATO Summit. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, accompanied by Chicago police officers, represented the department's 12,500 members, as the White Sox presented a special tribute to the Chicago Police Department during the seventh inning of the 6-0 victory over the Twins, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel looking on from the television broadcast booth.
McCarthy and the police officers were hosted on the field during pregame batting practice, getting to mingle with some of the players and talk with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, general manager Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura.
"It's really a wonderful thing by the White Sox organization to do what they do," said McCarthy, a die-hard Yankees fan who has put his Chicago allegiance behind the White Sox through his friendship with Reinsdorf, and after the Cubs hired a "Red Sox guy" in Theo Epstein. "I really appreciate it."
"The job they did was a bang-up job, an exercise in patience and tolerance to the highest level," Williams said. "It was noticed by all of Chicago, and I think really the world. So for us just to do a little bit of something to acknowledge them, I think hopefully will a go long way in reinforcing how we feel and the city feels about them."
Third to first
Wednesday's 6-0 victory over Minnesota marked the White Sox fifth shutout of the season.
The White Sox have won five of their last six, and are now 11-11 against the American League Central.
White Sox hitters have homered 11 times in the last five games.
Jesse Crain made his fourth straight scoreless appearance since returning from the disabled list.