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Article updated: 8/22/2011 2:30 PM

Tyler Flowers making most of big break with White Sox

In the seven games he has started since catcher A.J. Pierzynski went on the disabled list, Tyler Flowers is batting .400 (10-25) for the White Sox.

In the seven games he has started since catcher A.J. Pierzynski went on the disabled list, Tyler Flowers is batting .400 (10-25) for the White Sox.

 

Associated Press

 White Sox closer Sergio Santos, right, celebrates with catcher Tyler Flowers after they defeated the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Manager Ozzie Guillen says Flowers has been “outstanding” behind the plate.

White Sox closer Sergio Santos, right, celebrates with catcher Tyler Flowers after they defeated the Texas Rangers on Saturday. Manager Ozzie Guillen says Flowers has been "outstanding" behind the plate.

 

Associated Press

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Ramon Castro's broken hand earned Tyler Flowers a seat on the White Sox' bench, and A.J. Pierzynski's broken wrist got him into the starting lineup.

To say Flowers is making the most of the bad breaks would be an understatement.

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"I think this kid's going in the right direction," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Hopefully, he can keep it there."

Considered a can't-miss prospect when he joined the White Sox, along with Brent Lillibridge, in the Dec. 5, 2008 trade that sent pitchers Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to the Atlanta Braves, Flowers got off to a promising start in the Sox' minor-league system.

In 2009, the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder batted a combined .297 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI in 108 games with Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte.

Flowers figured to take the next step last season, but it was a backward one.

Instead of coming up at some point and helping the White Sox, Flowers batted .220 at Charlotte and resembled a right-handed Adam Dunn while striking out 121 times in 346 at-bats.

"We had plans for him two years ago," Guillen said. "He's supposed to be the guy here. Now, he's back in the picture. I think everybody likes the way he's playing. They like the way he handles the pitching staff. They like the way he goes about his business."

And the White Sox like the way Flowers has rediscovered his offensive game.

The 25-year-old catcher is batting .316 with 3 doubles, 1 home run, 3 RBI and a .435 on-base percentage.

In the seven games he's started since Pierzynski went on the disabled list, Flowers is batting .400 (10-25).

In 65 games with Charlotte before joining the Sox after Castro suffered a likely season-ending injury, Flowers batted .261 with 15 homers and 32 RBI.

"The hitting coach in Triple-A (Tim Laker) did a great job with him," Guillen said. "I think the hitting coach in Triple-A worked with him, put him in the spot where we can count on him again. He's been facing pretty tough pitchers.

"What he's been doing with the bat is pretty impressive against the pitchers he's been facing. Behind the plate, outstanding. Now we know we can count on him this year and in the future at the big-league level."

While Flowers has been impressive at the plate, his main focus has been on handling the pitching staff and calling the right pitches.

In his first start after Pierzynski went down, Flowers and Gavin Floyd didn't appear to be on the same page.

Flowers has grown increasingly confident over the past week, and he caught Floyd again in Sunday's 10-0 win over the Rangers. Facing a Texas offense that is one of the best in baseball, Floyd allowed just 3 hits in 7 innings.

"We kind of went with the game plan that I was talking about before the game, being real aggressive early, fastball command," Flowers said. "(Floyd) was doing that and it set up everything for the rest of the game. We had them kind of looking hard for the first few innings and then started dropping a lot of breaking balls. He was able to throw them for strikes and we were able to get them to chase them in the dirt. It worked out great."

It's been a great run for Flowers, and he'll try to keep it going when the Sox open a five-game West Coast swing Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

"We could win every game I play, that would be better," Flowers said of his stretch as the White Sox' starting catcher. "But it's been pretty good. Our pitchers have been throwing pretty well. We've had a good game plan and executed pretty well for the most part. Being able to swing a few hits in is pretty nice, too. But like I've been saying, the major concern is taking care of my pitching staff."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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