The Chicago White Sox are seeing their pitching staff getting healthier by the day. Now the team may need to turn its attention to the other half of the battery.
Following Monday's snapping of a five-game losing streak was sobering news of an injury to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Though his right oblique strain is listed as mild, the prospect of Pierzynski missing a substantial number of games could hamper Chicago as they attempt to stay in the playoff hunt.
White Sox skipper Robin Ventura held his starting catcher out of Chicago's 11-4 win over Minnesota Tuesday. Coupled with Detroit's loss in Cleveland, the White Sox pulled into a tie with the Tigers in the AL Central Division.
It isn't far-fetched to think that he will start Tyler Flowers again on Wednesday. Ventura told MLB.com's Cash Kruth that with a rash of injuries, mostly to the pitching staff, his reserves have to step up.
I don't think anybody can plan on what's going to happen, so, for me, it's just do [what you can] with the people that we have. I think that's all we can do, is play. The front office, they've got to do what they've got to do. They're looking, but you're not always going to get what you'd like to have. So, for us, the focus is on playing with what we got.
Last season, Pierzynski broke his left wrist in mid-August and missed several weeks. Flowers, the White Sox backstop of the future, was able to hit .275 while Pierzynski was out. If Flowers was needed to take over starter duties, could he replicate that success?
Flowers has caught 21 games for the White Sox in 2012, and I would say that defensively the difference would be minimal. He has thrown out 50 percent of base-stealers, and can be depended on to handle the pitching staff for an extended run of games.
At the plate, the bat, once thought of as Flowers' strength as a prospect, has not surfaced. He has hit at just a .178 clip with little power, and is striking out in over 40 percent of his plate appearances. With Pierzynski leading AL catchers with 50 RBI and a .507 slugging percentage, the offensive drop off is huge.
Flowers was one-for-four with a walk Tuesday night. If he would be required to fill in over a week or two of starts, he will have to take advantage of the regular at-bats. With Pierzynski's contract expiring after the season, any extended time in the lineup may serve as an audition for 2013.
In the event that Pierzynski's condition worsens to the point of being put on the disabled list, Flowers would pair with a call-up from Charlotte, either Hector Gimenez or Josh Phegley. However, let's just hope Pierzynski's condition is no more than a temporary malady.