By Bruce Levine-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — In an attempt to regain his starting catching job, Tyler Flowers will get the first shot from manager Robin Ventura this spring. Ventura said having one man as the main catcher is essential for the young pitching staff that is evolving for the White Sox.
“Flow will catch the first game,” Ventura said, alluding to Friday’s Cactus League opener. “More or less we know what we get with Tyler. I like the way he calls games he will be the starting catcher the first game.”
Flowers, who was given the starting job last season after A.J. Pierzynski left as a free agent, struggled on offense and defense in his first go-round as starting catcher. He missed most of the last six weeks of 2013 with a sore shoulder that was operated on on Sept. 5.
Struggles at the plate were part of the calculation, but the defensive lapses left the Sox coaching staffed nonplussed.
“Last year at there were times when it really wore on him,” Ventura said. “The offense was there, and he (usually) calls a great game the way he handles the pitchers. You like that stuff, but some people are better at separating that stuff. It got to a point last year where it wore on him.”
“Tyler did let the hitting things impact his catching ,” bench coach Mark Parent said on 670 The Score’s baseball show Saturday morning. “He is an excellent catcher and handles our pitchers well. He was trying so hard to get the offense right that it got him out of his first and most important part of catching.”
Flowers’ swing-and-miss ratio as always been high. Last season, he had 94 strikeouts in 256 at-bats. The Sox are OK with a certain number of strikeouts, but a career .200 batting average is too low to keep a full-time job catching 120-plus games per season.
The White Sox have talked to many of the other 29 clubs about adding a catcher. At one point a deal for Tampa’s Jose Lobaton was almost consummated, but he was eventually dealt to the Nationals. Second-year catcher Josh Phegley and Rule 5 draftee Adrian Nieto will scramble for the No. 2 catcher’s role if GM Rick Hahn can’t make a deal for a veteran backup.