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Josh Phegley among White Sox roster cuts

Updated: March 19, 2014 5:20PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox sent catcher Josh Phegley to AAA Charlotte on Wednesday morning, one of six roster moves made by the club.

Right-hander Andre Rienzo and lefty Eric Surkamp were also optioned to Charlotte, and the Sox reassigned right-handers Chris Beck and Cody Winiarski and first baseman Andy Wilkins to minor league camp.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Phegley, who was the team’s starter for much of the second half last season.

“No, not expecting this,’’ Phegley said. “But the decision was made. There is still some work to be done. I’m going to get my opportunities down the road. I know that. I believe in that.’’

His departure leaves Rule 5 draft pick Adrian Nieto and Hector Gimenez in a battle for the No. 2 catcher’s job behind Tyler Flowers. Nieto hasn’t played above Class A, so the jump to the majors would be significant, but the Sox like what they’ve seen of him in camp and have to offer him back to the Washington Nationals if he doesn’t make the team unless a deal is worked out. Like Gimenez, Nieto is a switch-hitter.

After batting .316 with 15 homers and 41 RBI at Charlotte, Phegley was called up and basically took over for Flowers on July 5. He batted .206 with a .233 on-base percentage. His defense and leadership also needs some brushing up, he was told.

“All-around, I’ve got to improve defensively,’’ he said. “I think offense is coming around. It’s an important position to be a catcher, handling a big league staff. That’s got to be the focus, and I think that’s my focus moving on from here.

“Not really anything specific, just mentally the attitude, just kind of being unselfish back there, focusing on the staff and getting them through the game. Whatever I have to do to do that, be a leader on the field, things like that.’’

Phegley, a sandwich pick out of Indiana between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft, said the Sox’ decision wasn’t a complete shock. At 26, he believes he has a career ahead of him as a starting catcher.

“I’m pretty disappointed. Everyone wants to wear that White Sox uniform, but I’m hopeful still. I’m a good player. I believe in that. I’m going to get a chance with this club.’’

The Sox have 38 players remaining in camp, including 17 pitchers.

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