Brent Morel's mission is to win the starting third base job he lost because of a herniated disc in his back and the signing of Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract.

But Morel didn't hurt his chances of making the opening day roster Thursday, as manager Robin Ventura inserted him at shortstop in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Chicago White Sox's 4-3 loss to Maryvale.

Morel played 17 games at shortstop as recently as 2010 at Triple-A Charlotte, but this move represents the Sox's latest examination of their potential opening day roster. Keppinger's sore right throwing arm has relegated him to designated hitter duty until Saturday at the earliest.

That's allowed Ventura and his coaching staff to look at newly acquired third baseman Conor Gillaspie, who was traded from San Francisco to give the Sox a sorely-needed left-handed hitter.

Angel Sanchez was acquired as a Rule 5 pick in December as a potential backup shortstop, and Steve Tolleson has played well defensively in the first week at shortstop.

But Morel, the Sox's opening day third baseman in each of the past two seasons, was primarily a shortstop in high school and during his freshman season at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

"It's fun to get out there," Morel said. "It's a little different, more stuff to do. It's nice."

Morel said he took some grounders at short during batting practice recently but that he remains familiar with the position. - See more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/chi-chicago-white-sox-brent-morel-shortstop-20130228,0,5002043.story#sthash.g75xFDWl.dpuf