Tyler Flowers faces an uncertain future with White Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter August 25, 2014 7:10PM
INDIANS AT WHITE SOX
Tuesday: T.J. House (2-3, 3.80 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.25), 7:10 p.m., CSN+, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
Wednesday: Corey Kluber (13-7, 2.46) vs. Hector Noesi (7-8, 4.39), 7:10 p.m., Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
Thursday: Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 3.14) vs. John Danks (9-8, 4.96), 7:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
Updated: August 25, 2014 9:32PM
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn will table discussion about Tyler Flowers — or most any other 2015 personnel decisions — until the end of the season.
And that’s OK with Flowers, who knows he’s just good enough to have a starting job and not good enough to let his guard down. While he knows the Sox like how he handles his defensive responsibilities and he takes satisfaction in coming back from a shoulder injury last year, Flowers realizes he is a trade, free-agent acquisition or big push by a Josh Phegley from losing his No. 1 status.
“Nowadays, until you get a multiyear [contract], your job is always up for grabs,’’ Flowers said. “Especially in spring training and even during the season, you have younger guys with their own skill sets wanting to get up here, too. It’s always in the air.’’
No. 2 catcher Adrian Nieto (batting .247), a Rule 5 pick who hasn’t played above Class A in the minors, needs full-time work to develop defensively and could get that in the minors next season. But Phegley, a likely September call-up, is hitting .283 with 22 homers and 72 RBI for Class AAA Charlotte.
Hahn knows the Sox could do better behind the plate than Flowers, 28. He also is aware that they could do worse at a position which, all around baseball, isn’t oozing with offense.
“I will say that just like last year, we are very pleased with Tyler from a defensive standpoint and the way he’s managed the pitching staff,’’ Hahn said recently when asked if the Sox can win with Flowers at catcher. “That has continued. He hasn’t lost any of that.
“In general, I would say that he can be an every-day catcher on a winning team.”
Flowers is batting .235 with nine homers and a career-high 40 RBI in a career-best 108 games. Since April, however, he has hit .198, close to the .195 average he posted last season. As bench coach Mark Parent said, a lot depends on what the rest of the lineup looks like.
“I could have been the catcher on some World Series teams,’’ said Parent, a .214 lifetime hitter.
“I would expect just from free agency and other issues that the lineup is going to look different next year,’’ Hahn said. “So you do have to evaluate each spot about how it fits: Left, right, power, on base, speed. Whatever elements that each guy brings and how you are balancing out the lineup and the bench.’’
Flowers hopes he is part of the lineup “but you never know,’’ he said. “There’s still a lot of time to potentially solidify that spot or potentially not solidify it. It’s back to the daily grind where someone is coming for your job every day.’’
After having shoulder surgery last year, Flowers wasn’t at all sure he would be signed back by the Sox, who had interest in free agent Brian McCann. Even after he was re-signed, he knew he was not a sure bet to be the team’s No. 1 catcher, let alone a backup.
“Put it this way, I didn’t rent a place up here until I was told I made the team,’’ he said.
A .215 career hitter, Flowers’ performance at the plate has been up and down throughout the season. He hit .354 in April, .208 in May, .129 in June (with a season-best 10 RBI) .269 in July and .189 in August.
He’s not sure what the future brings, but Flowers, a 33rd-round draft pick, believes he will survive.
“I’ll definitely play baseball next year,’’ he said. “I know that. I hope that it’s here. I like where I’m at. I like this group and what we’ve got going here.’’
NOTE: With center fielder Adam Eaton expected to return from his injury rehab at Charlotte for a right oblique strain, Jordan Danks was optioned to Charlotte.
◆ Outfielder Moises Sierra (left oblique) began an injury rehab assignment at Charlotte on Monday.