Improved catch-and-release slowing opposition

Improved catch-and-release slowing opposition

Improved catch-and-release slowing opposition
CHICAGO -- After an extremely tough season throwing out baserunners in 2011, White Sox catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers have been successful on 3-of-4 would-be attempts in 2012.

It's not as if Pierzynski and Flowers went to a throwing camp during the offseason and improved their arm strength and accuracy. They simply have been given a better chance by White Sox pitchers to nail the opposition.

"Maybe we are just enforcing, and I don't know if that's the right word, strongly encouraging, the usage of slide steps and making our pitchers get comfortable with that in Spring Training," said Flowers, who caught Brennan Boesch at second Saturday on the back end of a strikeout/throw out double play. "In the past, it seems like a lot of guys weren't comfortable throwing a slide-step breaking ball.

"They would have a tendency to hang it. We made it a priority in Spring Training to become comfortable with that because that's what we are going to be doing a lot more of."

Flowers was successful on just 6-of-25 attempts against him in 2011. Ramon Castro finished 2-for-18, and Pierzynski was 14-for-108. But the White Sox backup catcher takes umbrage at the notion that Pierzynski doesn't have the ability to throw out runners.

According to Flowers, it's all about catch-and-release.

"A.J. has never been a bad thrower," Flowers said. "He just hasn't had many opportunities and the ample amount of time to make the throw. That's what [White Sox bench coach Mark] Parent and [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] are creating for us -- more of an opportunity to give us 1.9 or two seconds to get the ball down there.

"Before, we had to be 1.7 getting it down there and neither of us are Ivan Rodriguez, so that's not going to happen. I've been reading about it on A.J. for years and it's not a fair rap.

"The guy can throw. He's not throwing 90 mph down there, but he catches the ball and gets rid of it quickly and he's accurate with it," Flowers said. "You don't have to throw it 95 mph to get guys out. You should throw it 80 and get rid of it quick, under two seconds or at two seconds, and we should get 60 percent of those guys."

Parent talked as far back as SoxFest about making improvement in this facet of the game a priority. Now, it's up to Flowers and Pierzynski to be accurate with a better chance.

"That's what I've always said," Flowers said. "I'll throw out the guys I'm supposed to throw out when I'm given time 75 percent of the time. The other 25 percent is my fault for making an inaccurate throw."

"Our pitchers have been doing a great job, and it helps them, too," Ventura said. "That's the thing for pitchers to understand. But they're giving A.J. and Tyler a chance to throw somebody out."