Christopher Morel breaks up Reds’ no-hit bid in 8th inning

The promising prospect also made his first start in right field.

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Christopher Morel

Christopher Morel #5 of the Chicago Cubs hits a single for Chicago’s first hit of the game in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field on May 26, 2023 in Chicago. Cincinnati shutout Chicago 9-0.

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Christopher Morel broke up the Reds’ no-hitter with a sharp single to center field off reliever Eduardo Salazar leading off the eighth inning. It was just part of an eventful day for Morel.

With Seiya Suzuki getting a day off after a night game Thursday, Morel started in right field for the first time in his big-league career. And it was an adventure that brought to mind an age-old baseball adage: The ball will find the inexperienced fielder.

With the wind blowing toward right making his job more difficult, Morel took an awkward route on Spencer Steer’s triple in the first inning Friday. He also had a learning experience with the wall on Steer’s sixth-inning double. But fate finally smiled on him two batters later when he caught Nick Senzel’s fly ball, aggressively threw home and was rewarded with a double play when runner Matt McLain slid over the plate and was tagged out by catcher Tucker Barnhart.

“It’s a quick turnaround [a day game after a night game],” manager David Ross said when asked about Suzuki getting the day off. “Seiya hasn’t had one, other than the days off that have been on the schedule. Being able to bounce Chris around is important. But I think the key [to the move] was getting Seiya a day off in the field.”

Morel went hitless (0-for-4) for the first time this season against the Mets on Thursday night. With his single that broke up the no-hitter, he has hit in 14 of 15 games since being called up from Triple-A Iowa. Morel is hitting .333 for the season (20-for-60) with a 1.198 OPS.

But it was little consolation.

“There were no at-bats given away,” Ross said. “Morel getting that one to break [up] the no-hitter — you don’t want to get no-hit, but it doesn’t matter. An ‘L’ is an ‘L.’ It doesn’t feel good.”

Bellinger still out

Cody Bellinger was eligible to come off the injured list Friday but still is feeling discomfort and is not ready to return, Ross said.

Bellinger has been out since May 15 with a knee injury he suffered while making a leaping catch against the wall in Houston.

“He’s getting better every day; it’s just taking a little longer,” Ross said. “It’s just taking a little bit of time to get that thing calmed down. But he’s tracking [pitches] in the cage. He’s doing everything. He’s got a nice routine to keep himself ready to be back as soon as possible when that thing does feel better.

Tough decision?

Veteran Mike Tauchman, who was called up to replace Bellinger on the roster, is hitting .235 (4-for-17) after going 0-for-3 against the Reds, but he has a .409 on-base percentage after walking in the first inning. He is making a bid to stay when Bellinger returns.

Tauchman batted third against the Reds, an indication of Ross’ confidence in him.

“The patience,” Ross said when asked about Tauchman’s impact. “It has really stood out to me, him sticking to his plan. The ability to give a deep at-bat at times when he’s not seeing the ball and being able to jump on his pitch in his zone has really stood out early on.”

Welcome, rookies

The Bears’ entire rookie class participated in the ceremonial first pitches. Offensive tackle Darnell Wright, the Bears’ first-round draft pick, and defensive tackle Gervon Dexter, a second-round pick, did the honors.

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