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 will retire Mark Buehrle's number in June

White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle's number in June

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mark Buehrle apparently has retired after all.

The longtime White Sox pitcher, who never officially called it quits, will have his No. 56 retired on June 24.

Buehrle, who won 161 games and completed at least 200 innings in 11 straight seasons for the White Sox, last pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. The White Sox will honor their former ace — he's the 12th player in franchise history to have his number retired — before they host the Oakland A's at 1:10 p.m. in June.

Buehrle was a human highlight reel over his 12 seasons with the White Sox. Whether it was his fancy glovework, a perfect game, his no-hitter or recording a save in the 14th inning of Game 3 of the 2005 World Series, Buehrle was a South Side legend.

"Mark Buehrle is one of the most accomplished pitchers in franchise history," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "Mark carried himself with class and professionalism throughout his career, and his popularity with staff, teammates and Sox fans is very well deserved. Although a very humble person, he certainly showed a flair for the dramatic on the mound, from a no-hitter to an unforgettable perfect game to a World Series title. A standout on the field and a standup teammate in the clubhouse, it is our honor to retire Mark Buehrle’s No. 56 and to welcome him into the legendary class of all-time White Sox greats."

The White Sox selected Buehrle in the 38th round of the 1998 amateur draft and he debuted in 2000, going 4-1 in 28 games (three starts). Buehrle also earned four All-Star nods while with the team (five overall) and was a three-time Rawlings Gold Glove winner (four overall). He also won two of three starts during the team's 2005 World Series run as the team snapped an 88-year championship drought.

Buehrle signed a four-year, $58-million deal with the Miami Marlins ahead of the 2012 season and was later traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched 200 innings in 14 consecutive seasons before falling four outs shy of the feat in his final campaign (2015). Though Buehrle never officially retired, he hasn’t pursued pitching for another team since.

Ex-White Sox Jesse Crain hosting charity event featuring Paul Konerko, George Brett

Ex-White Sox Jesse Crain hosting charity event featuring Paul Konerko, George Brett

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ex-White Sox pitcher Jesse Crain is hosting a local charity golfing event featuring Paul Konerko, Matt Thornton and Hall of Famer George Brett among others.

Crain, who pitched for the White Sox for three seasons and was an All-Star in 2013, and his wife, Becky, recently created the Crain Family Foundation to benefit children. 

The couple is hosting the Swing into Spring event at Top Golf in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Monday night, which is designed to benefit the Tandem Resource Center, Arizona RBI Baseball and Autism Speaks. Crain expects between 25-30 current and former players will participate in the event, which is open to the public.

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"Me and my wife had wanted to start a foundation for a long time with the platform that we'd give back to kids any way possible," Crain said. "We just want to be able to help kids in whatever capacity, whether through medical, hardships or whatever it may be."

Crain, who was at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday, said planning for the event began in October. Though he had wanted to begin a foundation during his playing career, Crain said after planning the event he knows he wouldn't have had the appropriate amount of time while he was an active player.

Among those scheduled to attend are Cody Ross, David Aardsma, Jonny Gomes, Nick Punto, JJ Putz, Brandon Webb, Justin Morneau, Matt Lindstrom, Scott Feldman, Nate Jones, Mark Melancon, Denard Span and Chad Qualls. Crain also hopes to convince a few more current White Sox players. He said reservations for the event or donations can be made through Crainfamilyfoundation.org.