From all appearances, the Chicago White Sox are going with Tyler Flowers behind the plate in 2013. Appearances may be deceiving, however, given the nature of recent comments White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams made about Flowers.
In an article Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune’s White Sox beat reporter Mark Gonzales quoted Williams less than convincing support for the heir apparent.
Flowers has “the chance to replace” Pierzynski?
This entire offseason, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has been fairly firm in his comfort level with Flowers. So firm, in fact, that Flowers opening the season as the starting catcher was almost a foregone conclusion.
Tyler Flowers stands as reason No. 1, with the White Sox strongly believing in his ability. Hahn doesn't feel the White Sox will lose anything in regard to defense or calling a game, and Flowers' work with the staff already has been outstanding. Offensively, Hahn likes Flowers' power potential and ability to get on base.
Hahn was on record, but Williams seemed ambiguous. Not anymore.
After all, the White Sox are counting on a guy who had 56 strikeouts in only 136 at-bats. Granted, Flowers has yet to accumulate more than 153 plate appearances in any given season, but it has to be of great concern.
In all fairness, Williams did laud Flowers for his work with the pitching staff. Gonzales noted in his article that the former GM has no issue with the way the 27-year-old handles them.
All you have to do is talk to our pitchers for five minutes, and they'll tell you how enjoyable it is for them to throw to him and the job he does behind home plate. He gives a good comfortable target on both sides of the plate. The center of his body where he'll move left, move right, he'll move back. He'll give a target where it's known where he wants it, down or up.
Fair enough, but it is somewhat easy to overlook the fact that the staff’s ERA was the exact same (4.04) with either Pierzynski or Flowers catching. So, focusing on how good Flowers is behind the plate is a bit misleading.
Comments like the one Williams made may make some fans a little upset that a greater effort was not made to bring Pierzynski back.
Now, this is all coming from a single sentence within the larger context of a full interview.
Williams is not known for saying things he does not mean, however. Therefore, the comments must be taken at face value.
And if Williams is pragmatic enough not to be sold on Flowers, no one should be.
One good thing may come out of this. It appears that the White Sox are going to let the performances in spring training dictate who opens the season behind the plate.
That is the way it is supposed to be.
*Statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com