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.

A White Sox team with raised expectations was supposed to beat the bottom of the barrel, but they haven't so far in 2019

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USA TODAY

A White Sox team with raised expectations was supposed to beat the bottom of the barrel, but they haven't so far in 2019

The White Sox might not be destined for the postseason in 2019. They might not be destined to finish .500, what with the rebuild still grinding along on the South Side.

But this team spent spring training talking about raised expectations, a logical next step for a group of young players supposed to make up part if not much of the rosters of the future that will carry expectations of a lot more success. And while the individual improvements of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson and and Eloy Jimenez and Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez are more important than whatever the win-loss record ends up being, there was a realistic hope within the fan base for more wins.

In part, that was due to the competition around these White Sox. The AL Central is aggressively weak, the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers further back in their own rebuilding efforts than Rick Hahn's front office ever was and the supposed "upper echelon" of the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins anything but terrifying. Outside of the Boston Red Sox (who to this point have been atrocious in defending their World Series championship), the New York Yankees (with a ridiculous number of players on the injured list) and the Houston Astros (generally taking care of business though not in first place in the AL West), did any other American League team look unbeatable during the preseason?

And yet, 23 games into their 2019 campaign, the White Sox have been knocked around by the American League — the good, the bad and the ugly of it.

Wednesday's 4-3 defeat to clinch a series loss to the Baltimore Orioles was particularly disheartening when it comes to which teams the White Sox will be able to take advantage of this season. The Orioles lost 115 games in 2018, the worst team in baseball, and things aren't exactly looking up this time around, either. Well, they just took two of three against the White Sox, knocking the South Side starting staff around enough that Ervin Santana's 4.2 innings of work Wednesday were the most of a White Sox starter in the series. Manny Banuelos and Ivan Nova went four innings apiece in the first two contests.

The Royals and Tigers? Those two teams combined to lose 202 games last season and seemed good bets to finish with worse records than the White Sox this season. That can certainly still happen, but so far the White Sox have split six games against the Royals and dropped two of three in their first series against the Tigers last weekend.

They've split two games with the Indians. They went a gross 1-5 against two surprise division leaders, the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. The only team the White Sox have a winning record against is the aforementioned Yankees thanks to taking two of three in The Bronx earlier this month.

A rebuilding team not expected to make the playoffs losing to a smattering of teams including two of the best in the game to this point is not surprising. No one should pretend that other teams aren't seeing the White Sox in the same light White Sox fans see the Royals and Tigers and Orioles. The White Sox lost 100 games last year, too.

But if the expectations have truly increased, if there is progress truly being made, then these are the teams the White Sox should be showing that progress against. They haven't.

Now, individually, things are a bit of a different story. This series in Baltimore featured no starting pitcher that can be considered a part of the White Sox long-term plans, and Nova and Santana turning in losing efforts against the Orioles, no matter how frustrating, doesn't really have negative consequences for the future. Anderson and Moncada are still batting over .300, Jose Abreu could be in the middle of an early season turnaround, and the bullpen only gave up two runs in three games despite pitching more than 12 innings. In the end, what the young guys do will be what's most important, not the White Sox record against any individual team this season.

But the frustrations can be understood — and surely they're being felt inside the White Sox clubhouse as much as they are outside it — because taking care of business against teams expected to be at the bottom of the standings was supposed to be one of the examples of progress, one of the examples of improvement. The White Sox haven't taken care of business against those teams yet this season.

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Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near

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AP

Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near

The White Sox are still waiting on one of their offseason acquisitions to make his 2019 debut. And it doesn't sound like it will be coming soon.

Jon Jay, signed to a one-year free-agent deal over the winter, has yet to play during the regular season, still dealing with the back, hip and groin injury that cropped up during spring training. His recovery process has been infrequently discussed by the White Sox, who seem to simply be stuck in wait-and-see mode with the veteran outfielder.

Jay took batting practice for the first time since the start of the regular season this week in Baltimore. But despite that sounding like a noteworthy step, manager Rick Renteria made it sound like Jay's return is still a good deal away.

"He's moving along," Renteria told reporters ahead of Wednesday night's game. "He took some BP yesterday. He's increasing his work, controlled work in a controlled environment. He's out there throwing now. So he's moving along as good as we can expect he should be.

"I think we're being cautious and simply allowing him to get his feet underneath him. He's out there now with the boys and trying to get back out on the diamond and do the work he can. And then the training staff will continue to give us an update measuring — it's slow and go right now. But he's coming along in a positive manner.

"Ultimately there will be a rehab assignment. That goes without saying. I think it just depends on when it begins. Right now, this is barely going to be the second day where he's taking BP out there, so we're a little bit away from me to even speculate as to when it can be, early or late. I couldn't give you anything in an accurate form."

That's hardly an encouraging update from the skipper, at least for those hoping to see Jay back in the lineup in the near future.

Jay played in a dozen Cactus League games during the spring, slashing a promising .324/.361/.500 with a couple homers and eight RBIs. While many fans latched on to his connection to star free agent Manny Machado this winter, Jay can provide a boost for the White Sox batting order, bringing the on-base skills that have yielded a .352 career on-base percentage. Only four or five White Sox hitters have succeeded from an on-base standpoint this season: Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, James McCann, Ryan Cordell and Jose Rondon have on-base percentages over .350 (those last two in limited playing time), while everyone else on the team is reaching base at clips under .330.

But when those skills can be imported into the lineup remains a mystery at the moment.

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