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updated: 2/16/2014 8:42 PM

White Sox give Flowers, Phegley another shot

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  • One of the few bright spots for Tyler Flowers was hitting a home run off Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander in July. Flowers played in only 84 games before his season ended with shoulder surgery in early September.

      One of the few bright spots for Tyler Flowers was hitting a home run off Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander in July. Flowers played in only 84 games before his season ended with shoulder surgery in early September.
    Associated Press

 
 

Rick Hahn has been drawing rave reviews for his aggressive action in reshaping a White Sox team that lost 99 games last season.

Thumb's up on new right fielder Avisail Garcia, on new first baseman Jose Abreu, on new center fielder Adam Eaton and new third baseman Matt Davidson.

On the catching front, however, most thumbs still are turned down on Hahn's decision to give Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley mulligans.

"If you go back and look at all of our moves, our major moves, that we've made since about last year's trade deadline, they've been with the aim towards having a long-term solution, something that is going to grow with this core that we're developing here," Hahn said.

"So we have Tyler, who has about 300 plate appearances, many of them with an injured shoulder, and we have Phegley, who had 200 or so plate appearances for his first time in the big leagues.

"Conceivably, if they can get back to doing what they were doing in the minors or what our scouts saw and our player-development people saw, they could work their way into being part of that core."

When Sox pitchers and catchers reported for spring training Saturday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., Flowers and Phegley were on even footing. But even though Hahn is giving them second chances, both are on thin ice.

"We were both frustrated with last year, and we're going to try to put good seasons together," Phegley said. "We definitely have the tools to get the job done."

Flowers replaced A.J. Pierzynski as the No. 1 catcher last year, and his home run lifted the White Sox to a 1-0 win over the Royals on Opening Day. After that, it was pretty much all downhill.

In early July, Flowers lost his starting job to Phegley; he finished with a .195/.247/.355 hitting line in 84 games and season-ending shoulder surgery Sept. 5.

Phegley came up from Class AAA Charlotte and took over for Flowers, and he looked like a keeper after hitting 3 homers and driving in 8 runs in his first five games. But it was pretty much all downhill after that as well, and Phegley finished with a .206/.223/.299 line in 65 games.

While Hahn might be forced to go out and get a more proven catcher at some point during the upcoming season, Flowers and Phegley still are in play.

"You definitely want to have that confidence, that feeling from the organization that they believe in you," Phegley said. "I think they've shown that. With Tyler and myself, just showing the faith in us that we can get it done, that they've haven't given up on us, it means a lot.

"Hopefully we can produce for them."

Adrian Nieto also is in the catching mix after being selected from the Nationals in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 draft. In 110 games with Class A Potomac last season, Nieto batted .285 with 29 doubles, 11 home runs, 53 RBI and a .373 on-base percentage.

Nieto has to be offered back to Washington if he doesn't make the White Sox' 25-man roster.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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