Flowers determined to earn starting role

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Flowers determined to earn starting role

A.J. Pierzynskis move to the Texas Rangers has given Tyler Flowers the one thing he has wanted most these last few years: opportunity.

Though Pierzynskis deal with the Rangers is still not official, his one-year, 7.5 million-contract appears to pave the way for Flowers to take over as the White Sox everyday starting catcher in 2013. Flowers, who hit .213 with seven homers in 153 plate appearances last season, said by phone late Friday he doesnt have any expectations that the White Sox simply hand over the keys to the starting role. But what the 26-year-old (he turns 27 in January) does want is a fair chance to take over the job and believes he will thrive in the situation once the team reaches Glendale, Ariz. in February.

I dont want to be handed the job, but I want a level playing field and then Ill take my chances, Flowers said.

Acquired by the White Sox in a Dec. 4, 2008 trade that sent Javier Vazquez to Atlanta, Flowers has technically had a chance to win the White Sox job each of the past few springs. A two-time Baseball America top-100 prospect, Flowers believed he might have a shot the last time Pierzynski was a free agent heading into 2010 only to see the veteran return on a two-year deal.

Though he was in camp, Flowers said he always knew the odds of him taking the job from Pierzynski were long.

Theres a chance, but when youre up against someone making 7 million a year the reality is your chances are pretty slim, Flowers said. Im fighting for that job. But do I have a chance? Probably not. But you have to prepare because what if AJ is hurt.

The White Sox hoped Flowers would play winter ball in Venezuela this offseason but his own injury wiped out the plan. With two games left in the regular season, Flowers suffered a broken wrist when he was hit with a pitch by Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez.

Flowers was in a cast until 2 12 weeks ago, which he said restricted the start of his offseason weight-training program by one week. But he also noted that he has started his hitting and throwing programs on time and expects to be fine for the teams first partial workout on Feb. 12.

In limited playing time in the majors, Flowers has a .205.307.388 slash line. Those numbers have led to some White Sox fans to wonder how the team believes Flowers can take over as the teams full-start starter on the heels of a career performance by Pierzynski, who hit .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs last season.

But the teams decision-makers think Flowers performance will improve with everyday repetitions. Flowers had a .275.391.481 slash line and 80 homers in 2,253 minor-league plate appearances.

His pro numbers also have come with once-a-week appearances and rarely has Flowers had a chance to start in long stretches of games. Last summer, then-general manager Kenny Williams said Flowers doesn't need to worry about his offense because he played sporadically.

The team is very high on Flowers defensive abilities behind the plate. Theyre confident he can call a good game, provide a strong target and he has a strong arm. Last season, Flowers threw out 14 of 42 base stealers and had a 1.2 WAR, according to Fangraphs.com.

Though some might have doubts, Flowers doesnt. He knows there might be a growing pain here and there but is sure hes capable.

Its not going to be a cakewalk playing every day, Flowers said. Teams see you and your weaknesses and they adjust and I have to take care of those weaknesses. Im definitely confident. It really has nothing to do with that. I believe Im good. My intention is to do it and show everyone I can hang around for a long time.

Preview: Carlos Rodon, White Sox open final series of season vs. Twins on CSN+

Preview: Carlos Rodon, White Sox open final series of season vs. Twins on CSN+

The White Sox open their final series of the season tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon (8-10, 4.08 ERA) vs. Tyler Duffey (9-11, 6.18 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.

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White Sox five-game winning streak snapped with loss to Rays

White Sox five-game winning streak snapped with loss to Rays

The playoffs were the ultimate goal and he probably would have liked another victory on Thursday night.

But Jose Quintana has plenty to be proud about when he takes stock of his 2016 campaign, which ended with a 5-3 White Sox loss to the Tampa Rays in front of 14,792 at U.S. Cellular Field. The first-time All-Star’s record dropped to 13-12 after he allowed two earned runs in six innings in his final start, but not before Quintana established career highs for innings pitched, strikeouts and earned-run average. The loss guaranteed a fourth straight losing season for the White Sox, who haven’t reached the postseason since 2008.

“I’m happy with my year,” Quintana said. “But every time I say it’s not about me. It’s about the team. We’ll try to finish strong in the next series against the Twins and come back next year to have a better year than this one.”

Quintana had the best individual season of his career. If he’d received any kind of run support from his teammates, he’d be at or near the top of the leaders for wins, too.

But same as he has for the past four seasons, Quintana didn’t receive any run support yet again on Thursday, though this time can be attributed to a stellar performance by Chris Archer.

Archer held down early an offense that had Quintana ranked 116th out of 132 qualified starting pitchers in run support. The White Sox only had two runners reach scoring position in the time Quintana pitched (one scored). By the time Archer slowed down, the White Sox bullpen allowed three runs and the contest was nearly out of reach at 5-1.

Still, Quintana was good enough to win yet again in a season full of comparable efforts.

He allowed a run in the second inning on a bloop RBI single by Alexei Ramirez and another in the fourth on a solo homer by Mikie Mahtook. Other than that he was his normal efficient self, striking out seven and limiting the Rays to two runs and five hits in six innings.

The effort lowered Quintana’s ERA to 3.20 (his previous low was 3.32 in 2014). He also surpassed his previous high-inning mark of 206 1/3 with 208 this season. And, Quintana, who eclipsed the 10-win mark for the first time in his career, finished with 181 strikeouts, three more than he in 2014.

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks the overall production was a byproduct of the first All-Star nod for Quintana, who surpassed 200 innings for a fourth straight season.

“You wouldn’t think that would mean a lot, but it really does,” Ventura said. “I think that’s the stuff that can catapult somebody into things that are better and pushing him into the offseason, the optimistic stuff of going into next year.”

Quintana’s name often surfaces as an easy fix to some of the White Sox’ woes when it comes to next season.

With two guaranteed seasons and two club-friendly options left on his current contract, Quintana — who entered Thursday valued at 19.7 f-WAR for his career — is viewed as a stellar trade chip given the weak free agent class. It is believed the White Sox could solve several problem areas on the roster or add considerable depth to their farm system were they to make Quintana or Chris Sale available. Quintana knows the possibility exists but hopes he’s back with the White Sox next season and helping them end their postseason drought.

“I don’t have control about that,” Quintana said. “I don’t know nothing about trades. I’m here as a Chicago White Sox, and I want to be here for a long time. I’ll go home, rest and am going to be ready to start with my preparation for next year. I’ll be ready for that, but I don’t have control about trades.”