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Cubs' Christopher Morel enjoying storybook return to majors 'thanks to God'

Despite the fact that he played 113 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2022, Christopher Morel found himself back in the minor leagues to start this season. He was obviously disappointed but made the best of the situation, hitting 11 home runs in 29 games for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.

His positive attitude caught the attention of team president Jed Hoyer, and he was called up to the majors May 8.

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“I’ve been around a lot of guys that sulk, they go down and we have to wait a couple weeks before they start playing well,” Hoyer recently told The Athletic. “For him, it was like day one. That says a lot about his character. He just likes to play. He always wants to be playing and I think he showed that.”

Morel went deep in his first game back with the Cubs. And his third. And his fifth. And his sixth. Then he hit home runs in five straight games, a streak that came to an end in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over the New York Mets.

The 23-year-old became the first player in franchise history to begin a season with eight home runs in 11 games and has collected at least one hit in all 13 games he’s appeared in. He’s hitting .358 since being called up.

It would be a heartwarming story for any player hoping to get another chance in the big leagues. The fact that it’s Morel putting on a show makes it extra special because of how close his career came to ending before it even really got started.

Born and raised in the Dominican Republican in the city of Santiago, Morel was signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 2015.

In December of that year, Morel was taking a bus from the Cubs’ complex in Santo Domingo to Santiago. The bus stopped at a cafeteria, and Morel got off to grab some food. He realized the bus had started to leave, but the cafeteria door was jammed. When he tried to push the glass door open, it shattered.

Glass came flying at him. Shards cut through nerves in his left arm and near his left eye. He was rushed to the hospital and into surgery.

Immediately after, Morel assumed his baseball career was over. He went to his doctor to see if there was any hope. The doctor said “no,” and the news crushed him.

But one of the Cubs’ trainers, José Álvarez, found Morel weeping in the bathroom, and Álvarez said something Morel still reminds himself of today when he’s in a tough moment: “Todo lo puedes en Cristo, que me fortaleza — I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).”

“When I have my lows, I remember I was at a bottom so low, one that I thought I would never get out of,” he said last year. “And I see where I’m at and I keep fighting for my dreams and thanks to God, I’m achieving them.”

Morel made his major league debut on May 17, 2022, after getting called up straight from Double-A. In an interview with Marquee Sports Network, he praised God for the opportunity to realize his dream.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “But it’s a blessing. I will always thank, firstly, God, and my family and my Chicago Cubs family.”

His faith is also prominently featured on his Instagram account, where he often ends posts with “Gracias a Dios por todo,” which means “Thanks to God for everything.”

While Morel’s journey hasn’t been an easy one, it has taught him what is possible when he places his trust in God.

“In the course of my career, of my life, it’s been filled with tons of obstacles, many roadblocks, many falls,” he said. “But when you have faith in God and you stay strong and you ask, Papa Dios gives you that reward.”

The Cubs host the New York Mets in the final game of a three-game series Thursday. First pitch is at 7:40 p.m. ET.

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