Despite sporadic play, Williams pleased with Flowers' performance

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Despite sporadic play, Williams pleased with Flowers' performance

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tyler Flowers is in rare territory this season as for the fourth straight game on Saturday he in the White Sox starting lineup.

Normally the backup catcher, Flowers has started since Tuesday in the place of starter A.J. Pierzynski, who is out with a right oblique strain. Pierzynski is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday, manager Robin Ventura said.

But with a chance to play in four straight games, Flowers said he has been able to move on easier after a poor at-bat because he knows there are more to come.

Flowers is 3-for-12 with two doubles and a walk in Pierzynskis absence.

I think Ive gotten into that a little bit more the last couple of days with a couple of days in a row to play to maybe not worry about each at-bat so much, Flowers said. Youre still grinding it out when youre in at-bat, but maybe not carrying it over today or tomorrow. Just kind of letting it go because tomorrow Ill have another chance to get more at-bats and hopefully something good will happen.

Flowers has admitted this season to struggling with the transition from a full-time catcher to the backup role, where he plays once a week. Through 99 games, Flowers has played in 31 games and accrued 81 at-bats. He is hitting .185 with two homers and two RBIs. But Flowers has already been informed by general manager Kenny Williams exactly what is expected of his performance.

Williams pays more attention to the 3.72 ERA Sox pitchers have when hes behind the plate or the fact that Flowers has thrown out nine of 19 stolen base attempts.

All he needs to do is focus on the defensive side of the game and take care of the pitchers when he's asked to, Williams said in an email. He has done just that. He has a tremendous offensive upside, but you will not see it until the day comes where he plays regularly. All he is asked to do offensively right now is work hard to prepare and fight through his AB's just like everyone else. He has given us just what we needed from the position.

Flowers said his primary goal with at-bats is to battle through them and extend them for as long as he can. His results arent what hed prefer, but as long as he makes the pitcher work he is satisfied and can focus on his real duties.

Im sure Kennys been in my shoes before, Flowers said. Not playing every day is a challenge, its hard. Its challenging mentally, physically you usually feel pretty good. But at the same time, seeing live pitching and stuff, mentally being able to handle that failure 70 percent of the time, its more like 80 percent of the time when youre playing once a week. Its something that has been hard to handle, but hearing stuff like that makes it a little bit easier. It eases your mind a little. But again, the No. 1 job is catching the pitchers and doing a good job behind the plate.

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu homer as White Sox tie Padres in Arizona finale

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Saladino hit leadoff on Wednesday, finishing with a home run and a single.

Saladino's first-inning drive was one of eight combined homers hit between the White Sox and San Diego Padres, who finished in a 9-all tie at Camelback Ranch. Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria said that Saladino, who finished 2-for-2, would see most of his playing time at second base.

"He's been developing and continuing to grow every single season," Renteria said. "The flexibility that he brings allows him to be in the lineup over an extended period of time. But we want to make sure we take care of him as we want to do with everybody else, kind of keep them all fresh as much as we can.

"He's developed into a pretty good major league baseball player."

Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico and Jake Peter all homered for the White Sox. Delmonico led the White Sox with five homers this spring. Abreu went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.

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Rule 5 pitcher Dylan Covey, who appears primed to make the Opening Day roster, allowed two earned runs in his lone inning pitched. Covey then headed to the bullpen and threw additional pitches there as the White Sox continue to build up his arm strength.

Veteran Anthony Swarzak allowed a run and struck out two in two innings. Reliever Dan Jennings allowed five runs (four earned) and four hits in 1/3 innings.

First-rounder Zack Collins drew a pair of walks in his only plate appearances and scored a run.

The White Sox ended the spring with a 16-15-2 record.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."