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

120034.jpg

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.

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

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

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”