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Friday, December 21, 2012
No masking White Sox's green catchers

By Doug Padilla

Tyler Flowers
The White Sox appear willing to take the plunge with inexperienced catcher Tyler Flowers.
That pitching staff the Chicago White Sox's front office believes will expertly guide itself through some impressive opposing lineups will now be placed in the hands of the least experienced catching corps in the American League.

With A.J. Pierzynski's departure now official, the White Sox become the only AL team without one catcher on its projected Opening Day roster to have at least two years of major-league service time. Pierzynski agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

After the White Sox, the next youngest group of catchers in the AL belongs to the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and New York Yankees.

Tyler Flowers, who has 1.148 years of service time, will head into the season as the White Sox's starting catcher. At this point of the offseason, the White Sox are not expected to add a free-agent catcher, leaving Hector Gimenez (1.123 years of service time) as the backup.

There still remains the chance the White Sox can add a catcher on a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp. Among the available options, as listed on the ESPN free-agent tracker, are Rod Barajas, Henry Blanco, Miguel Olivo, Brian Schneider, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Snyder and Matt Treanor.

If the White Sox happen to make an experienced catcher addition before spring training, Flowers is still projected to be the starter come Opening Day.

Not only will be Flowers be hard pressed to match Pierzynski's run-production numbers in his first full season, there are clear areas where he won't match up with his former teammate. He isn't expected to reach Pierzynski's batting-average and on-base percentage marks, and he figures to strike out much more.

On the other hand, the White Sox are pleased with Flowers' ability to call a game, and he should improve the White Sox's ability to handle the opponents' running game. He should also help with blocking balls in the dirt and lower the pitching staff's wild-pitch numbers.

Those areas could help the pitching staff to be even better, albeit ever so slightly. The pitching staff will be the backbone of the squad, but still could use all the help it can get, especially when facing improved lineups from the Tigers, Angels and Blue Jays, to name a few.

So while being the youngest group of catchers has its disadvantages, it might not be the worst option. At such a demanding position, it's not as if the preference is to have the oldest group of catchers either.