GLENDALE, Ariz. — Barring an unforeseen event, Tyler Flowers is set to be the White Sox starting catcher.
While he’s no doubt pleased to be given a second chance to prove himself, Flowers admitted Monday’s he’s a bit surprised. Flowers also said the news, which manager Robin Ventura’s provided on Sunday, is validation after a trying offseason. Not only did he rehab from season-ending shoulder surgery, but Flowers also wasn’t sure he’d wind up with the White Sox — at least not as the starter.
“Definitely not,” Flowers said. “Even when I signed back, that’s not a guaranteed contract per se. So you have to come out here and prove you’re healthy, prove you can be beneficial to the organization and the team. So no, I definitely didn’t take it for granted. It was the longest offseason of my career this far, just the day-in, day-out work and physical therapy and then working all my normal stuff along with it. It was definitely a challenge, but it’s nice to have it pay off to this point. Feeling healthy is definitely a plus. It’s going to be a progression, and you have to continue to stay on top of it and continue to earn that starting job each and every day.”
Given the task of replacing A.J. Pierzynski as the starter in 2013, Flowers had a .195/.247/.355 slash line with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 275 plate appearances.
Pitchers love throwing to Flowers, but he struggled early in 2013 as a receiver until he made a technical adjustment. His throwing also didn’t meet expectations because of a shoulder he said bothered him since before the start of last spring training.
But Flowers has felt healthy enough this spring to put significant distance between himself and his competition.
“For the most part, pretty good,” Flowers said. “There have been a couple days where it hurts a little bit, but not really affecting me being able to throw or the velocity necessarily. From what I hear from people that have had the surgery, there are going to be days like that. It’s understandable because I’m not really that far away from surgery. It’ll probably be an ongoing thing, and there will definitely be ongoing maintenance probably for years to come.”