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updated: 3/19/2014 8:54 PM

White Sox send Phegley packing to the minor leagues

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  • The White Sox optioned catcher Josh Phegley, left, to Class AAA Charlotte on Wednesday. Tyler Flowers was named the starting catcher earlier this week.

      The White Sox optioned catcher Josh Phegley, left, to Class AAA Charlotte on Wednesday. Tyler Flowers was named the starting catcher earlier this week.
    Associated Press

 
 

When he came up from Class AAA Charlotte in July to replace the ineffective Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley initially looked like he would be the White Sox' full-time catcher for the foreseeable future.

In his first five games with the Sox, Phegley hit 3 homers and drove in 8 runs. For the rest of the season, he was mostly invisible.

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Flowers is back, and he was named the Sox' No. 1 catcher earlier this week. And Phegley is going back -- to the minor leagues.

On Wednesday, the White Sox optioned Phegley and starting pitchers Andre Rienzo and Eric Surkamp to Class AAA Charlotte. Starter Chris Beck, first baseman Andy Wilkins and relief pitcher Cody Winiarski were reassigned to minor-league camp.

"No, not expecting this," Phegley told reporters. "But the decision was made. There is still some work to be done. I'm going to get my opportunities down the road. I know that. I believe in that. Today wasn't a complete shock, when I heard (Tyler) Flowers was named the starter. In my heart, I believe I'm a starting catcher. I need to get my at-bats and keep getting better. I'm 26, so I think I have a long career ahead of me."

With Phegley out of the picture, the backup catcher's job is between Hector Gimenez, who filled the same role for the first half of last season, and Adrian Nieto.

The latter is an interesting story.

Nieto was selected from Washington in the Rule 5 draft, and the 24-year-old catcher must be offered back to the Nationals if he doesn't make the Sox' 25-man roster.

Backup catchers are usually veterans that can handle playing once or twice a week, but Nieto was at Class A Potomac last season and he is still a developing young player.

Nieto also served a 50-game suspension to open the 2011 season for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

After Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Angels, manager Robin Ventura was asked about Nieto.

"It would be tough, so ...," Ventura said. "I'm not saying it's impossible. We still have a ways to go here."

On Sunday, Nieto made a good impression in an exhibition game against Texas, going 2-for-2 with a walk and 2 RBI.

"He's done a good job since he's been over here," Ventura said after the game. "He does a good job receiving back there, controlling the game. Offensively, he's gotten better as he's been in camp. We haven't seen him a whole lot as far as just being over here, but he does a good job."

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