White Sox

Tyler Flowers optimistic for free agency despite 'tough' decision

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Tyler Flowers optimistic for free agency despite 'tough' decision

He’s headed from a situation where he never could live up to fan expectations to arguably being the top catcher in free agency.

So even though he was surprised Wednesday when the White Sox didn’t offer him a contract, Tyler Flowers is optimistic about his future. Not only is he the lone 2015 starting catcher available via free agency, Flowers is set to hit the market at a time when his skillset — in particular pitch framing — has received more positive attention than ever before. As one American League scout noted, Flowers’ phone should be ringing off the hook if it already isn’t.

“He should tell them thank you,” the scout said. “I bet he gets more than his (arbitration) raise in this market.”

Flowers feels like he’s headed into “unknown territory” and doesn’t know how much interest he’ll garner. But he should receive a boost from the scarcity of catchers available and the fact that he steals strikes like few other catchers.

[MORE: White Sox decline to offer contract to Tyler Flowers]

Statcorner.com had Flowers tied for first with Francisco Cervelli with an average 1.79 extra called strikes per game that were balls in 2015.

A three-year starter with the White Sox, Flowers said he worked hard to improve the defensive side of his game to make up for deficiencies with his bat. He also figured it would ensure him a longer career.

“There’s always a need for catching,” Flowers said. “I think that’s why when you come up as a catcher you put such an emphasis on your defense because there’s always a need for good defensive catchers. The fortunate few that are superior offensively and they’re good defensively, they get locked up to life-changing deals. That’s why it has always been imperative to me to be as good as I can defensively because ultimately that’s what’s going to help you keep a job.

"It stinks that it didn’t work out where I was at, but ultimately, that’s why I’ll land a job somewhere for next season and it’ll all work out for the best.”

No matter where he lands, Flowers should immediately start out on better terms with that team’s fan base than he did with the White Sox. From the outset, Flowers faced the constant ire of some fans after taking over for A.J. Pierzynski, who was allowed to depart via free agency in 2013. Flowers’ struggles in his first season as the starter (he hit .195 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs) only heightened the disappointment and the catcher never really recovered with fans, despite putting together a solid 2014 campaign.

Flowers said he embraced the challenge of replacing one of the more prominent faces of the franchise and thinks he’ll benefit in the long run.

“The situation I was in was kind of a tough one,” Flowers said. “It was an uphill climb from the get-go with A.J. being such a huge name in that town and with that organization that whoever came in after him. It was going to be a battle and it was a battle I was willing to take on. Ultimately, it didn’t work out for an extended period of time. But I was able to hang on to the job for a few years and get my feet wet, get used to the league and get acclimated and somehow now I’m almost a veteran of sorts. I feel like that brings on another whole value to myself that can help other teams.”

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Flowers — who was acquired with Brent Lillibridge from Atlanta on Dec. 4, 2008 — admits he’s surprised the White Sox let him go because of the way they have valued his work with the pitching staff. He thought they’d retain him and Alex Avila, who signed a one-year deal last week, and use the duo in a platoon. But even so, Flowers said he’s grateful to the White Sox for the opportunity.

“There’s definitely no negativity and hostility,” Flowers said. “If anything it’s probably the opposite. Very grateful a team saw me in the Arizona Fall League and thought they saw something that would help their club and they made an aggressive move to get me in their organization and then gave me some opportunities to be the starter and to hang around for a while. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

“The business side is tough. When you don’t have success and you’re expected to have success individually and as a team, the business side dictates that you’ve got to make moves so it’s definitely understandable.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list