Chicago White Sox

MLB: Can the Chicago White Sox Survive Behind the Plate Without A.J. Pierzynski?

Tyler Flowers is tabbed with the task of replacing A.J. Pierzynski for a couple of weeks. Can Flowers and Donny Lucy get the job done behind the plate?
Tyler Flowers is tabbed with the task of replacing A.J. Pierzynski for a couple of weeks. Can Flowers and Donny Lucy get the job done behind the plate?Brian Kersey/Getty Images
Jon FromiSenior Analyst IAugust 18, 2011

The Chicago White Sox certainly could not have foreseen the team's current catching tandem when the season began. Prospect Tyler Flowers was coming off of a disappointing season in Triple-A and was back in Charlotte, while Donny Lucy was the man backing him up.

The duo formerly behind the plate in Charlotte is now handling the backstop duties for the White Sox for the next two weeks and possibly longer.

A.J. Pierzynski was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after being hit by a pitch last weekend against the Royals. With the diagnosis being a broken left wrist, the injury comes five weeks after back-up Ramon Castro was lost with a broken right hand.

Pierzynski's placement on the DL couldn't come at a worse time. The veteran catcher had been hitting .410 in August, including five RBI in five games since Ozzie Guillen installed him into the fifth spot in the batting order.

For Flowers, who had been used sparingly since being called up to replace Castro last month, it's not a question of being ready for everyday duties behind the plate. The White Sox need him to step in and step up immediately.

So far, Flowers has responded. Saturday saw him slug his first major league home run in a 5-4 win over Kansas City. He's banged out six hits in his first three games as the starter, including two in Tuesday's 8-7 14-inning win over the Indians.

Donny Lucy, who has been up with the White Sox for two short stints, will likely back up Flowers until Pierzynski returns.
Donny Lucy, who has been up with the White Sox for two short stints, will likely back up Flowers until Pierzynski returns.Brian Kersey/Getty Images

Lucy caught Mark Buehrle Wednesday night as the White Sox lost, 4-1. He was without a hit in three at-bats but threw out Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth inning. He's been up for cups of coffee with Chicago in 2007 and 2010. Can Lucy help Flowers hold down the fort until Pierzynski returns?

Pierzynski hit the DL batting .296 on the season. As of Wednesday, Flowers had matched that, albeit in just nine games with the White Sox.

Maybe the better question is this: How long will they have to fill the void?

The team is calling this more of a bone bruise than a break in the wrist. Two weeks is supposed to be precautionary. We could see Pierzynski back by September 1, when he's eligible to come back from the DL.

Then again, he could be out a month for all we know right now.

I think Flowers can fill in until September, but if the injury to Pierzynski's wrist keeps him out much longer it may be a factor in the chase for a Central Division flag. Still, you never know what a few weeks of regular playing time could lead to with a young player, especially if he continues to hit.

If the White Sox can remain in the hunt until Pierzynski returns to the lineup, whenever that is, it will be due in part to the job done by two catchers who weren't in the picture when the season started.

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