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Flowers eager for everyday role behind plate

Flowers eager for everyday role behind plate

Flowers eager for everyday role behind plate
CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers has been a valuable contributor playing behind White Sox starting catcher A.J. Pierzynski this season.

He has thrown out 33.3 percent of would-be basestealers and has consistently shown the ability to call a good game. Flowers has picked up his game with the bat of late, knocking out 17 hits in his last 49 at-bats, including the game-tying homer Saturday and the game-winning shot in Sunday's rain-shortened victory over the Mariners.

Judging Flowers' everyday offensive potential based on this season becomes virtually impossible, considering Flowers has only 114 at-bats. But in a recent conversation with MLB.com, Flowers expressed strong confidence that he could produce at the plate if given the everyday opportunity.

"There's no doubt in my mind," Flowers said. "I think it comes down to an opportunity, an opportunity where I have a chance to get 400 or 500 at-bats. That's the only way we are going to find out.

"I've been able to string together some hits recently. That's always good to play every once in a while and still feel like you really contribute from both sides. Not just being able to do it defensively and working with the pitcher but being able to get some hits and sneak in some runs."

That offensive potential for Flowers could factor into the club's future catching decisions. In Pierzynski, the team has a highly durable leader on pace to catch at least 1,000 innings for the 11th straight season and extend that longest active streak. The .285 career hitter is having his best offensive year with a career-high 23 homers leading all Major League catchers and his 70 RBIs, .538 slugging percentage and .877 OPS topping all American League catchers.

Pierzynski also will be a free agent at the end of the 2012 campaign. As popular and valuable as he has been over the past eight years on the South Side, the White Sox have to choose between bringing back Pierzynski or possibly giving Flowers those regular at-bats.

"You can't fault them for wanting to bring him back or anything like that," said Flowers of Pierzynski. "He's had a tremendous year, and our team is in first place. We'll just have to see how it shakes out."

When asked what sort of hitter he would be as a starter, Flowers presented a stat line of ".375, 50 and 170" with perfect deadpan delivery. He's not a concerned about that right now, especially while playing for a division leader.

"I'm not going to tell you I can hit .300. That would be foolish," Flowers said. "Maybe I can, but history would say probably I'm not going to be the guy to hit .300 for this team.

"I can put up some power numbers and strike out more than I want to. But that's been the whole story of my career. Cut down on strikeouts, put more balls in play and maybe I can get my average to sneak up to pretty respectable and have power numbers with it. You got to get the [at-bats] though."

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