Craig Counsell Wants Christopher Morel to Make Mistakes at 3B

They’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them, so the Cubs are hoping Christopher Morel did a lot of learning on Wednesday. The third baseman biffed a liner in the 2nd inning and airmailed what should have been an easy throw the following frame. That latter mistake is one he’s made far too often and seems to come from poor footwork, bad timing, or both.

Morel’s got more than enough arm strength to get the ball across the diamond, but will sometimes rush an unnecessary rocket or push a floater that sails high and wide. Rather than chiding him for those errors, the Cubs are embracing them as part of a learning process that is going to last well past their time in Mesa.

“Hopefully, frankly, [there are] mistakes,” Craig Counsell told reporters after Wednesday’s win. “I want mistakes, because you learn from mistakes. I want action — balls hit to you. That’s what I’m rooting for in the game. Let’s hit a lot of balls to Christopher Morel. You want that. From that perspective, he’s on the field every morning and getting that accomplished. We’re in good shape.”

Counsell has stressed that third base is not set in stone and won’t be any time soon, but he has also made it clear that Morel is going to continue to focus there. It’s a simple matter of building up enough reps for team leadership to make a definitive decision one way or the other. They need to know whether or not Morel can handle it, even if it’s just to keep the hot corner warm for Matt Shaw or someone else.

The reality of the situation is that Morel needs to be in the lineup every day, and he has hit much better when he’s playing a position than when he’s the DH. It’s more challenging to find everyday for utility players, plus it can be difficult for some guys to focus when they’re constantly moving around.

“It’s easier concentrating on just one position,” Morel said recently. “I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, I need to go practice outfield. I need to take fly balls. Find a different glove.’ It’s easier when you play one position and you know you go to that position every time you go to play.”

Regardless of how it all works out in the end, I like the way Counsell is handling this situation and I think it speaks to how the manager views young players in general. He may have to change tack if we’re still talking about an overabundance of unforced errors in June, but the Cubs aren’t worried about crossing that bridge till they come to it.

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