Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Is Tyler Ready for A.J.'s Job?

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Sox Drawer: Is Tyler Ready for A.J.'s Job?

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010
6:40 PM
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Not sure if Tyler Flowers watched the cartoon Dumbo when he was a child, but when it comes to the White Sox catcher position, hes like the giant elephant in the room, the hot-shot prospect being groomed to replace the one and only A.J. Pierzynski.

And hes not afraid to say it.

Of course I want his job, Flowers told Comcast SportsNet.

The only question is, when will he get it?

Not now. Or at least, not yet.

Flowers, ranked by Baseball America as the 60th best prospect in MLB, acknowledges that while hes ready mentally to start in the big leagues, I dont know if the White Sox think Im ready physically yet.

Flowers at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds is certainly big enough to catch in the majors, or play linebacker for the Bears.

Jerry Angelo, do you want his phone number?

What the 24-year-old really means is that he needs to spend more time physically behind the plate.

There are a lot of situations that havent come up in my development yet, Flowers said. I havent been catching that long. I havent had too many plays at the plate. Clutch situations where you got to be on top of the scouting reports, what pitch to go with, understanding the pitchers. Weve got a pretty veteran staff here. It would be tough for a guy like me, and for them, to let me be the starter now or sometime early in the season.

But next season? Thats another story.

Pierzynskis contract expires after 2010, and while both sides have expressed a desire to talk about a new deal, it wont be as simple as signing on the dotted line.

Asked about his approach to re-signing Pierzynski, Sox GM Kenny Williams told CSN, Im going to ask him what his expectations are and match them up with what I see our future roster looking like. Well see what budget issues are looking like, minor league guys coming up, a guy right behind him in Tyler Flowers coming up, and how that would work in the overall grand scheme of things, because were always trying to win.

No White Sox player has had a greater desire to win than Pierzynski, who has said all along that he wants to remain in Chicago. Williams expects to open dialogue with his catcher here in Glendale sometime during spring training. As of Thursday, it hadnt happened yet. But theres still plenty of time.

It takes two parties to get something done, Pierzynski said. And if they come up to us and say something then Im sure well engage in some conversations and see where it leads.

The 34-year-old signed a two-year, 12.5 million extension with the White Sox in 2007. Considering his leadership, knowledge of the game, and extreme durability, another two-year extension seems realistic.

But you never know.

Either way, Flowers says hell be ready. Next season. In two seasons. Or even (gasp) this season.

Im preparing myself everyday for it, Flowers said. Hopefully nothing happens to him this year, but if something does, hopefully Ill be the guy to step in, so I need to prepare myself for that just in case that happens. But knowing A.J. and the way he works everyday that probably wont happen, just like the last 10 years it hasnt happened. But just in case I got to be ready. Whatever happens next year, Ill be ready for that.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

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USA TODAY

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

HOUSTON -- Don’t think the White Sox front office isn’t enjoying every second of Yoan Moncada’s tear.

Everyone can breathe a little easier knowing there are fewer questions for baseball’s top prospect to answer headed into 2018. Pleased as they’d been with Moncada’s patient plate approach, the club desired a breakthrough before Oct. 2 for the confidence boost it would provide him alone. Moncada continued a torrid run on Wednesday night that should have him bristling with poise when he arrives in Glendale, Ariz. next February. He homered as the White Sox fell 4-3 to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“We’ve been looking for him to continue to try and make adjustments,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There was probably a point there where people were a little concerned. Truthfully, when you see some of the talent these kids have, you recognize that their skillset is going to play up, it’s just a matter of getting the repetition.”

The White Sox have been impressed with Moncada’s improved awareness as he gains more experience.

One area in which Moncada has made the most gains is pitch recognition. The book has been that second baseman has had trouble with offspeed since he arrived in 2016, hitting .154 against sliders and .238 against curveballs entering Wednesday, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

But Moncada is trending upward. The first-pitch slider from Astros starter Brad Peacock that Moncada ripped for a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fourth inning was his fifth hit of the trip on a slider or curveball in 11 at-bats. On the trip, Moncada -- who has 209 plate appearances this season -- is hitting .415/.477/.683 with three homers, eight RBIs and 12 runs in 41 plate appearances.

[MORE: Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

Given Moncada’s struggles in a brief 2016 tryout with the Boston Red Sox, having success is certainly helpful as he won’t head into another offseason wondering when it might happen for him. Moncada doesn’t compare the two situations because of playing time -- he was limited to 20 plate appearances over a month in 2016. But he agrees his recent play is good for the psyche.

“It’s important for my confidence, especially thinking about next year,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “With this run, I have been able to have more confidence and believe in myself and my talent, and I think that’s something I can carry into next season.”

“This offseason is going to be different because I’ve been able to play almost every day. I have more confidence in myself. I know the game better. Last season I had an opportunity to be at this level a little bit, but it wasn’t the same. This year is the opposite because I’ve been playing a lot and have been able to handle good and bad stretches at this level.”

While a reduction in strikeout-rate is still needed to be more effective, Moncada has begun to establish himself as a major league hitter. It’s exactly how teammate and mentor Jose Abreu hoped Moncada would spend his time this season.

“He has to get to know a lot of things at this level,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The game, the pitchers, the culture here -- there’s a lot of little things he has to get to know here. The way you can work through it is give your best every day and try to learn as much as you can and try to use all your knowledge and to pool your knowledge on each play in the game. That’s the only way you can get results and you can build on those results and this experience for the future. I think he’s finally doing it and that’s important for him and for us thinking of the next season and beyond.”

Renteria not only likes the pitch recognition but the way that Moncada has tried to hit through the shift several times against Houston. Though the White Sox never wavered, they’re certainly happy to see Moncada produce the way they thought he eventually would.

“He’s starting to slow it down a little more,” Renteria said. “He’s starting to see more of the landscape and making adjustments in general. It’s been a good run for him. We thought he would show signs of growth at the end of the season and he’s doing that.”

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

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USA TODAY

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

This one may sting a bit, White Sox fans.  

On Wednesday evening, former White Sox ace Chris Sale accomplished a feat that no other American League pitcher has since 1999. The current Red Sox left-hander whiffed his 300th batter of the season, becoming the first A.L. hurler since Pedro Martinez to do so. 

Sale reached the impressive milestone in a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem. Vintage. 

Overall on the season, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with opponents hitting a mere .203 against him. Before his postseason debut in October, Sale has a shot at leading two franchises in season strikeout totals: 

The consolation on the South Side is that the prized prospect acquired in the Sale blockbuster had a pretty nice night himself. Yoan Moncada drilled a two-run blast in Houston, his seventh since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. 

The great trade debate wages on.