Phegley feeling confident heading into battle for starting role

Phegley feeling confident heading into battle for starting role
February 7, 2014, 12:45 pm
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"Phegleymania" has long since subsided, and a five-game surge to begin his major league career won't help Josh Phegley earn at-bats in 2014.

But Phegley feels the greatest lesson he learned came after his impressive debut, a stretch of 60 games in which he had just a .487 OPS.

"I think when I kind of slowed the game down a little bit I started overanalyzing and trying too hard," Phegley said. "You hit those peaks and valleys throughout the time. I think I got too wrapped up in that."

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Phegley belted three home runs in his first five games with the White Sox last summer, which he said was the product of just trying to react to what he saw instead of thinking about it. But the learning curve quickly grew steep: Phegley only hit one home run the rest of the season and struck out 35 times with only five walks.

Ultimately, Phegley's full-season numbers were worse than those of Tyler Flowers, who hit 10 home runs with a .603 OPS to Phegley's four home runs and .522 OPS. The White Sox didn't land a big-ticket free agent catcher -- general manager Rick Hahn said the only viable candidate was Brian McCann, who signed with the Yankees -- so it'll be Phegley vs. Flowers unless Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto impresses enough in spring training to make the leap to the majors.

"No one's goal is to be the backup," Phegley said. "That's just any team. But whatever is decided at the end of spring training when we break -- I worked with Tyler last year, great guy, love being around him, learned a lot from him, helped me a lot getting to the big leagues and kind of making that adjustment. We're going to work great together if that's the decision that's made."