CHICAGO - The fourth year of the White Sox Volunteer Corps officially launched Saturday morning, with more than 300 members of this highly honored group helping to beautify and improve Kozminski Community Academy in Chicago.
Those dedicated members of the Corps were joined by White Sox players Zach Stewart, Hector Santiago, Alex Rios, Addison Reed and Tyler Flowers, who did everything from painting to landscaping to light construction.
Stewart worked with Flowers and did quite a bit of painting, before staining a couple of shelves. The young pitcher was impressed by the large group in attendance to help out.
"Oh, man it was cool to see that many people there, working out on a Saturday, and just actually putting in the time to volunteer and do that stuff," Stewart said. "They were there all day.
"They were there since 8 or 9 [in the] morning. We show up for like 1 1/2 hours or two hours here and there. But those are the guys really putting in the time and effort."
This White Sox Volunteer Corps was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence, which was created to recognize outstanding community efforts of an MLB Club. Over 5,000 fans have signed up for the Corps and since 2009, it has presented 18,000 service hours valued at $400,000 in labor.
Morel feeling better, returns against Royals
CHICAGO -- After a two-game absence and three days of inactivity to combat back soreness and stiffness, Brent Morel returned to the starting lineup for Saturday night's 5-0 loss to the Royals.
Morel also had an MRI taken during Thursday's off-day and received a cortisone shot to treat a bulging disc in his back. Morel reported a marked change attributable to that one shot on Thursday.
"It feels like 100 percent completely different right now," said Morel, who singled, walked and stole a base in the loss.
"He looked good [Friday] in batting practice," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Morel. "You could tell even the way he was moving around and swinging, he was a little freer with everything he was doing. It was more giving him [Friday] to get acclimated to it and being there [Saturday]."
Morel entered the second game of the series against the Royals and 34th game of the season hitting a miniscule .172, which stands as the Major League's fourth-lowest average among qualifiers. Morel also had just four RBIs and only two extra-base hits.
Although the bulging disc has bothered him since Spring Training, Morel does not want to make excuses for the slow start. But there's no question it has affected his overall performance.
"I mean, it's tough to rotate and it's just one of those things that you are trying not to hurt it when you swing," Morel said. "You can't do too much, so it just got the point where you give it three days off and get the injection and get it taken care of and kind of go from there.
"There's nothing too serious, no surgery or anything like that, with a bulging disc. It's just kind of one of those things you have to stay on top of and make sure to do my exercises and stuff every day and I should be fine."
Crain could be close to returning from DL
CHICAGO -- Jesse Crain tweeted before Friday's Triple-A Charlotte contest that he couldn't wait to get back into game action prior to throwing one perfect inning during his Minor League rehab appearance with the Knights.
Crain has been on the disabled list retroactive to April 21 with a strained left oblique muscle, and has one more scheduled outing with the Knights on Sunday.
If Crain performs well there, after striking out one and throwing 14 of his 21 pitches for strikes against Buffalo on Friday, then the White Sox should have a roster decision to make come Monday.
"We are just thinking about today," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Saturday's game against the Royals. "But we want to see how he does Sunday before we go into what's going to happen after that."
With Chris Sale back in the starting rotation, the White Sox have Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, Will Ohman, Hector Santiago and Nate Jones seemingly set in the bullpen. That leaves Zach Stewart and Eric Stults working for one spot when Crain returns, with Stewart holding the advantage as the White Sox probably won't go with four southpaws.
Much like Ventura, Stewart isn't worried about roster permutations with a chance for working possible Saturday or Sunday.
"I'm pretty confident in how I've been playing," said Stewart, who had a 2.25 ERA in seven games and eight innings pitched entering Saturday's action. "But I also understand decisions have to be made, and a lot of times, it's business decisions and falls on somebody. It's part of the game."
Ventura credits Dunn's mental approach
CHICAGO -- Manager Robin Ventura points to Adam Dunn's mindset as much as physical changes for the designated hitter's ability to match last year's home run total of 11 in just 33 games.
"A lot of it is just kind of free thinking instead of caring about results. He's more concerned about hitting the ball," said Ventura of Dunn, who has 26 RBIs. "He's been very good at putting last year behind him and just playing baseball.
"He's not in the mode of worrying about last year or trying to outdo last year or anything like that. It's more of playing the game and he makes it pretty simple. It's not always easy for a lot of people to do, but he's been great at just making it simple for himself."
Dunn joins Russell Branyan (10 in first 20 games) and Mike Napoli (10 in first 27 games) as the third players since 2008 to match their previous year's home run total in 33 games or fewer, according to STATS LLC.
Third to first
Nate Jones struck out four batters over 2 1/3 innings of relief, both career highs, during Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Royals. Nine of Jones' 10 appearances have been scoreless.
The White Sox three hits were a season low.
Saturday's setback dropped the White Sox home record to 6-10 and their American League Central record to 9-8. They are 1-13 when scoring three runs or fewer.