White Sox looking to keep catcher Tyler Flowers fresh
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org March 3, 2013 7:34PM
Updated: March 3, 2013 8:50PM
PEORIA, Ariz. — Tyler Flowers, who is embarking on his first major-league season as an every-day catcher, has caught in only three of the White Sox’ nine games this spring. He was the designated hitter Sunday, with Hector Gimenez catching.
‘‘I’m not worried about him catching,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘Get some other guys in there to give them innings behind the plate. It’s more [important to] get him at-bats.’’
Flowers has spent much of his time doing extra work on receiving, blocking, throwing and hitting.
‘‘It’s a long spring; it’s early,’’ Flowers said. ‘‘I expect to start playing every other day consistently soon.’’
Bench coach Mark Parent, a former catcher, knows the rigors of the job and does what he can to keep Flowers fresh. It’s not unusual to see Parent pick up Flowers in a golf cart and transport him from one station to another on the back fields.
‘‘He’s a catcher; he knows how heavy the bags are,’’ Flowers said. ‘‘He’s a nice guy.’’
Change is good
Left-hander Chris Sale threw a couple of changeups to the Indians’ Michael Bourn during his first start Friday, the first time he has thrown that pitch to a left-handed hitter. Bourn struck out twice.
‘‘It looked weird and felt weird, but I threw it a couple of times and had some success with it,’’ Sale said. ‘‘On the outer half to the lefty, which is a little different. Usually, you fall off and throw it arm-side.’’
Lefty-to-lefty changeups aren’t unusual. John Danks throws his changeup to all hitters.
‘‘I talked to John, and he’s like, ‘Lefty-on-lefty changeup, that’s one of my favorite pitches to throw,’ ’’ Sale said. ‘‘I’ve actually never done it.’’
Second baseman Gordon Beckham has stayed in the hitting crouch he used at the end of last season. His stance might look different because he’s flattening his bat almost parallel to the ground, but only momentarily.
‘‘I didn’t really change my stance,’’ Beckham said. ‘‘I don’t swing from that position; it’s just kind of a mechanism to get ready. Everybody is talking about my changed stance. I don’t think I changed much in the last year, just maybe how I start, getting ready.’’
Beckham, who flied to center, struck out and reached on an error Sunday, said it feels right and he feels good at the plate.
‘‘Just to make sure I’m lined up with my hands and back elbow,’’ he said. ‘‘If you don’t get lined up, it will be hard to bring the bat through very directly.’’
Shrugging off a terrible outing for the Sox last Monday (five batters, none retired), prospect Andre Rienzo bounced back with a solid outing for Brazil against Cuba in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday in Fukuoka, Japan.
Rienzo allowed one hit and, despite four walks, kept Brazil in the game. He threw four scoreless innings before reaching his pitch count in the fifth. He was charged with two runs in 42/3 innings and finished with two strikeouts.
Outfielders Alex Rios (Puerto Rico) and Alejandro De Aza (Dominican Republic) left for Puerto Rico on Saturday. Reliever Jesse Crain will play for Canada. The Sox will host Team USA in an exhibition Tuesday.