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With A.J. Pierzynski’s exit possible, White Sox content with Tyler Flowers

Tyler Flowers Lorenzo Cain

Tyler Flowers, Lorenzo Cain

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Updated: December 4, 2012 10:27PM



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As talks reportedly took shape between A.J. Pierzynski’s agent and the New York Yankees, the White Sox held fast to the notion that Tyler Flowers can take Pierzynski’s place as an every-day catcher.

‘‘You’re going to be comfortable,’’ manager Robin Ventura said,
emphasizing ‘‘going.’’

As in, there might be no choice.

‘‘If that’s what happens, just seeing Tyler, you’re just going to have to give him at-bats,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘And I think he needs more at-bats for us to have a very good sense of what he’s going to be offensively.’’

General manager Rick Hahn gave a rather glowing endorsement of Flowers on Monday. But he might be talking with Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington about a trade for 27-year-old switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who would give the White Sox the left-handed bat Ventura wants to avoid being too right-handed. As of now, Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza are his only left-handed hitters.

The White Sox and Red Sox have discussed a trade for right-hander Gavin Floyd in past seasons. The White Sox would want more than Saltalamacchia and would have to look at signing a fifth-starter-type right-hander, such as free agent Brandon McCarthy, to avoid being too left-handed in the rotation with Chris Sale, John Danks, Jose Quintana and/or Hector Santiago.

‘‘It’s conceivable that if we had a deal lined up that we liked for one of our starters or relievers that we would want to have that replacement in place from the free-agent market,’’ Hahn said Tuesday. ‘‘It would certainly make you more comfortable dealing from depth knowing you had that alternative in place. We’ll see if we head down that path.’’

If the Sox walk down the Flowers path, Ventura seems OK with it from a defensive standpoint.

‘‘Yeah, he’s proven that — the way he calls a game, the command and presence of what he does is fine,’’ Ventura said.

Whether Flowers becomes more than a high-strikeout guy with big power will play itself out.

If the right-handed-hitting Flowers is his catcher, Ventura said a left-handed-hitting third baseman would be preferred should Kevin Youkilis not be re-signed. Hahn said he can’t consider Brent Morel as a candidate until he gets through an entire spring training healthy, and he again characterized moving Gordon Beckham or Dayan Viciedo back to third as last resorts.

The Sox’ top option at third is to bring back Youkilis, but Hahn
declined to discuss talks. He said lines of communication are open with Youkilis’ agent and Pierzynski’s agent.

‘‘I don’t want to give daily updates on who we are talking to and not talking to, just because there might be a day where I don’t talk to one of the agents and there’s panic in the streets,’’ Hahn said.

‘‘We’re not going to be surprised by anything that happens with them, and they are not going to be surprised by anything we do.’’

It’s no surprise that signing Youkilis or Pierzynski likely would require shedding salary, perhaps Floyd’s $9.5 million or reliever Matt Thornton’s $5.5 million.

Out of contention for big free agents Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, the Sox are with those waiting for the first domino to fall and start the flow of free-agent signings and trades.

‘‘That could well be affecting us a little bit, whether it’s the agents waiting for their players to have more demand or it’s other clubs waiting to see if their alternatives will come to fruition,’’ Hahn said. “We’ve been able to move things forward here the last day or so. It doesn’t mean there’s going to be a deal the next two days, but there’s been progress.’’



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