White Sox

Sox Drawer: Is Tyler Ready for A.J.'s Job?

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Sox Drawer: Is Tyler Ready for A.J.'s Job?

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010
6:40 PM
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Not sure if Tyler Flowers watched the cartoon Dumbo when he was a child, but when it comes to the White Sox catcher position, hes like the giant elephant in the room, the hot-shot prospect being groomed to replace the one and only A.J. Pierzynski.

And hes not afraid to say it.

Of course I want his job, Flowers told Comcast SportsNet.

The only question is, when will he get it?

Not now. Or at least, not yet.

Flowers, ranked by Baseball America as the 60th best prospect in MLB, acknowledges that while hes ready mentally to start in the big leagues, I dont know if the White Sox think Im ready physically yet.

Flowers at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds is certainly big enough to catch in the majors, or play linebacker for the Bears.

Jerry Angelo, do you want his phone number?

What the 24-year-old really means is that he needs to spend more time physically behind the plate.

There are a lot of situations that havent come up in my development yet, Flowers said. I havent been catching that long. I havent had too many plays at the plate. Clutch situations where you got to be on top of the scouting reports, what pitch to go with, understanding the pitchers. Weve got a pretty veteran staff here. It would be tough for a guy like me, and for them, to let me be the starter now or sometime early in the season.

But next season? Thats another story.

Pierzynskis contract expires after 2010, and while both sides have expressed a desire to talk about a new deal, it wont be as simple as signing on the dotted line.

Asked about his approach to re-signing Pierzynski, Sox GM Kenny Williams told CSN, Im going to ask him what his expectations are and match them up with what I see our future roster looking like. Well see what budget issues are looking like, minor league guys coming up, a guy right behind him in Tyler Flowers coming up, and how that would work in the overall grand scheme of things, because were always trying to win.

No White Sox player has had a greater desire to win than Pierzynski, who has said all along that he wants to remain in Chicago. Williams expects to open dialogue with his catcher here in Glendale sometime during spring training. As of Thursday, it hadnt happened yet. But theres still plenty of time.

It takes two parties to get something done, Pierzynski said. And if they come up to us and say something then Im sure well engage in some conversations and see where it leads.

The 34-year-old signed a two-year, 12.5 million extension with the White Sox in 2007. Considering his leadership, knowledge of the game, and extreme durability, another two-year extension seems realistic.

But you never know.

Either way, Flowers says hell be ready. Next season. In two seasons. Or even (gasp) this season.

Im preparing myself everyday for it, Flowers said. Hopefully nothing happens to him this year, but if something does, hopefully Ill be the guy to step in, so I need to prepare myself for that just in case that happens. But knowing A.J. and the way he works everyday that probably wont happen, just like the last 10 years it hasnt happened. But just in case I got to be ready. Whatever happens next year, Ill be ready for that.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

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AP

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant sound like characters from your kid’s favorite show (or your favorite show, if you happen to be a kid).

But instead they’re the duo South Side baseball fans have been waiting for.

You might know them better as the Cuban Connection, an alliterative and far less confusing nickname that describes Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who in Monday night’s 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners combined for seven hits, three home runs, a double, a triple, six runs scored and four RBIs.

It was a welcome sight after the White Sox offense slumbered through a weekend series with the Houston Astros in which they mustered just two runs. Heck, this offense has been hard to find during the entire month of April. Entering Monday, it’d produced just 16 runs in its last seven games (with 11 of those coming in a single contest).

But then came Monday’s show, in which Abreu launched a pair of homers and Moncada came a single short of hitting for the cycle. That had to be a proud moment for Abreu, who’s taken his countryman under his wing since Moncada arrived in the majors last summer.

“I’m really mad at him because he had two chances to do it and he couldn’t,” Abreu joked with the help of a translator. “Seriously, I’m really happy for him. I know today was a special game for him. I know he couldn’t hit for the cycle today. But he’s going to have more chances in the future. He’s going to be good.”

This is what White Sox fans have been hoping for. It’s what they’re still waiting for, considering much of that oft-discussed team of the future is still developing in the minor leagues. But Moncada is the story of 2018 at the major league level, how development will continue for the player White Sox fans drooled over at this time last year, when he was ranked as baseball’s top prospect.

Moncada got a lot of early attention for his high strikeout total, and with another punch out Monday he’s now got 34 on the season, still one of the highest totals in the league. But his numbers are looking good in many other facets. He raised his batting average .026 points Monday alone, and he’s now slashing .240/.345/.493 on the still-young season.

Abreu, of course, is the White Sox best hitter and has been ever since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season. For a team in such an offensive rut, Abreu’s four-hit night Monday raised his batting average up over .300, to .308. He’s now got six homers on the season, the most on the team and one of the higher totals in the American League. While Moncada and others will spend 2018 showing the White Sox what they will be in the future, this was expected from a guy who’s been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters in the last half decade.

But the future comes into play with Abreu, too, whose consistency at the plate and his presence in the clubhouse as a mentor to Moncada and other young players make him as believable a part of those planned future contenders as any of the organization’s highly rated prospects. A contract decision will need to be made at some point, obviously, but the White Sox will tell you any day of the week how much they value Abreu, who knows exactly where this franchise is and is excited as anyone about where it’s going.

“Everybody knows we are in the process, and everybody knows what this process is about,” Abreu said. “We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young players. They are going to hit some bumps and have some struggles as a team. But I think we all know how we have to play this game. (Manager Rick Renteria) has taught us how to play this game, how to play this game representing the White Sox organization and how they play this game.

“I feel really happy. We prove today that we are able to play a good game and to show the rest how we win games. That is the way we like to play.”

Monday was a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise very tough start to the 2018 campaign. But for a team where the future is what matters most, this is what fans have been waiting to see. A game like this might not be commonplace as the summer rolls on on the South Side. But for those dreaming about Moncada and Abreu teaming to lead those contenders of the future, this was one heck of a glimpse into the crystal ball.

“That’s our goal to have big games together for this team,” Moncada said. “Having the opportunity to play with Abreu — ‘The Big Elephant’ as we call him in Cuba — it’s good for me. It’s a big honor. I feel really happy when we have these kinds of games.”

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

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AP

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

So, anyone out there still worried about Yoan Moncada?

The White Sox second baseman, who at this time last year was the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was the subject of much social-media frustration through the season's first few weeks. But it's safe to say he's "redeemed" himself in the eyes of fretting fans.

Monday night, he led the White Sox offensive eruption with a three-hit night that brought him just a single shy of the cycle in a 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Moncada started the offensive outburst with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled to start the bottom of the second and launched a solo homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. He scored all three times.

Moncada entered the game with a .214/.329/.400 slash line, though he's been hot of late. In the last seven games, he's got nine hits, six extra-base hits and three homers. He still has 34 strikeouts on the season, one of the highest totals in the majors, but he's putting up some good numbers elsewhere.

Abreu also had a red-hot Monday night, picking up four hits with a couple of homers, the 12th time he's bashed multiple long balls in a single game.

It was quite the performance for a White Sox offense that has mostly been quiet so far in 2018. They scored just two total runs in three straight blowout losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend. And while they plated 11 in that 14-inning marathon in Oakland, the three road games prior to that featured a grand total of three runs.

Monday night that all changed with the White Sox banging out 18 hits, including seven straight to start the bottom of the first, the first time that happened in the big leagues in four years.