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.

White Sox Road Ahead: Facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox

White Sox Road Ahead: Facing Chris Sale and the Red Sox

It'll be tough for Chris Sale to be humble when he makes his return to Chicago and faces his old teammates on Tuesday, but he'll do his best.

The former White Sox ace will face off against his old team as a member of the Red Sox (coverage begins at 6:30 on CSN with White Sox Pregame Live) and Dan Hayes and Siera Santos discussed what the atmosphere will be like on this week's Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers. Sale has dominated in his first season in Boston, going 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA.

Sale met with the Chicago media on Monday morning, and Hayes said the biggest takeaway from that presser was just how much Sale appreciated his time in Chicago.

"I think the fact that he realizes how important this was, how much he grew up with the White Sox," Hayes said in the video above. "He talked about that at length. Obviously last year was a little bit of a rouigh year, there were quite a few incidents, he said there were some blips on the radar, but mostly (he) had good times here than (he) had bad times and he said it's what has made him who he is. and he realizes that he apprecaites what he was able to accomplish here. misses the fans buit he's also moved on and he's doing well with the white sox."

See what else Siera and Dan had to say in the video above.

Jose Quintana on Tuesday opponent Chris Sale: 'He was the best teammate I ever played with'

Jose Quintana on Tuesday opponent Chris Sale: 'He was the best teammate I ever played with'

The majority of the talk surrounding Tuesday night's pitching matchup at Guaranteed Rate Field will be focused on the guy pitching against the White Sox.

Chris Sale returned to the South Side for the first time since being traded to the Boston Red Sox this past offseason, and he'll take the mound against his former teammates Tuesday. But the White Sox, who traded away one of the best pitchers in baseball, will be sending another All-Star hurler to the mound to oppose Sale.

Jose Quintana gets the ball for the White Sox, and while the attention will be squarely on Sale — and the emotions he does or does not show and the reaction he receives from the fans — Quintana will have his own emotional roller coaster going on, pitching against a guy who served as a mentor of sorts for the first five seasons of his career.

"Throwing on the same day will be a different feeling for me because he was the best teammate I ever played with," Quintana said. "It will be a different feeling watching him go against me after the last four years when he was my teammate. We talked last night. He said, ‘Hey, I’m in town. I can’t wait to see you guys.’ So I’m excited to play against him."

Sale had a few years on Quintana in major league service, but the duo looked like they would be a near-untouchable 1-2 combo at the front of the White Sox pitching rotation for years to come.

They both represented the White Sox at the All-Star Game last season and both finished in the top 10 in voting for the American League Cy Young Award.

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Sale was shipped to the Red Sox to start the White Sox rebuilding effort, breaking up that duo leading the staff. But as is often the case, it's not the performances and the statistics that Quintana misses the most about Sale but rather the qualities he brought as a teammate.

"I learned from his focus on the game and his passion for baseball," Quintana said. "We talked a lot over the years. But the first thing I learned from him was focus.

"I miss him. He was one of my best teammates ever that I played with. I understand it was part of the game. It’s a business and that happens. ... I miss his energy. We have a lot of guys here with energy too, but I miss the energy he had every time we talked in the dugout, watching the game."

Sale is having one of the best campaigns of any pitcher in baseball through the season's first two months. And while Quintana's start has been shaky at times, he's still the White Sox ace. It's that standing, though, that has had his name the subject of plenty of trade rumors during the offseason, spring training and since Opening Day. There is an expectation, warranted or not, that he will soon join Sale in departing the White Sox for a big prospect haul.

Until then, though, Quintana is taking over for Sale as the team's No. 1. The two old mates will go head to head Tuesday night in a monumental matchup, and Quintana is already projecting that focus he learned from Sale.

"I have just one game, and I have my focus on throwing the ball well for my team, to get a 'W.' That’s my focus every time, to do my job," Quintana said. "It will be a different feeling because I’m pitching against him, but I don’t want to pay attention to the other team. I just want to do my job."