Cubs skipper David Ross says Christopher Morel has ‘a lot of growth potential’ in Year 2

Cubs announce changes to medical and clubhouse staffs.

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The Cubs’ Christopher Morel takes batting practice in Mesa, Arizona.

The Cubs’ Christopher Morel takes batting practice in Mesa, Arizona.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — When Christopher Morel first spotted Seiya Suzuki at Cubs spring training, up 20 pounds from last year, Morel greeted Suzuki by commenting on how big and strong he looked.

“I said, next year, I’m going to be as big as him,” Morel recounted Wednesday through an interpreter. “Seiya told me, ‘No, don’t do that. You’re just going to get slow.’ ”

Morel said he did put on some weight this offseason, preparing for a long season ahead. Last year was his first taste of the big leagues. The Cubs called him up in May, and even though his hot start gave way to a late-season slump, he kept giving the team reasons to keep him in the majors.

“I learned a lot,” Morel said. “I learned a lot from veterans. I learned a lot from [former Cubs catcher] Willson [Contreras]. ... Learned how to be consistent, learned a routine, how to be disciplined in everything that we’re doing.”

Morel, who played outfield, second base, shortstop and third base last season, worked out all over the field over the winter. He enters a position battle with plenty of utility players in camp, including Edwin Rios, Miles Mastrobuoni and Zach McKinstry.

The Cubs’ offseason moves also gave them consistent starters in most positions, limiting at-bats off the bench and affecting how the team might use a young, versatile player like Morel.

“Christopher’s got a bright future ahead of him,” manager David Ross said. “We’ll see where this spring training takes him. He can bounce around the outfield for us, be a fourth outfielder. Could be a utility player; he can play pretty much any infield position, probably besides first — we haven’t put him [there]. But there’s also still a lot of growth potential there for him.”

Medical and clubhouse staff

The Cubs announced changes to their major-league medical and clubhouse staffs on Wednesday, the day after revealing longtime team physician and medical director Stephen Adams was retiring.

In addition to a shuffling of team doctors — including the appointment of Dr. Stephen Gryzlo, who has served as the team orthopedist for the last 19 seasons, as head team physician — the Cubs made a series of promotions to their athletic training staff.

The Cubs promoted PJ Mainville from head athletic trainer to director of medical services, Nick Frangella from assistant athletic trainer to head athletic trainer, and German Suncin from Double-A Tennessee’s trainer to major-league assistant athletic trainer. They also hired another assistant athletic trainer, Neil Rampe, and a performance nutrition and food service manager, Brittany Jones.

On the clubhouse side, former assistant manager Danny Mueller takes over as the home clubhouse and equipment manager, as Otis Hellmann gains the title of home clubhouse manager emeritus.


“You try to look at setting the team up for long-term success and the player up for long-term success. Obviously, roster construction, and option [years], and all those things matter in how the end result plays out. But what I know about winning baseball is it takes more than the 26 guys that break camp. It takes 30,40, 50 guys to have success.” — Ross on spring-training roster competition.

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