Ken Williams was promoted in October, but his 12-year legacy as White Sox general manager must include one of the boldest decisions of the offseason.

Catcher Tyler Flowers, whom Williams projected as an All-Star shortly after acquiring him from the Braves after the 2008 season, finally is to take over for A.J. Pierzynski — whose production and durability made him one of the most popular players in franchise history.

It's a delicate time for the Sox, who are searching for a left-handed bat to replace Pierzynski — now with the Rangers — while hoping Flowers, who turns 27 Thursday, can fulfill much of the promise Williams and scouts saw in him in the Arizona Fall League before acquiring him in a six-player trade.

Of the four players they received in that trade, infielder Brent Lillibridge is gone and Jon Gilmore hasn't gotten out of the minor leagues while Flowers and left-handed reliever Santos Rodriguez — a long shot to make the opening day roster — remain. They gave up starter Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan, each of whom subsequently has achieved some success with the Yankees.

"Listen, A.J. got a lot of big hits for us over the years," Williams, now the Sox's executive vice president, said Tuesday after participating with Bulls GM Gar Forman in a discussion with 12 students in the Youth Guidance B.A.M. Sports Edition program at Hyde Park High School.

"We are going to miss his left-handed presence in our lineup and his fight. He fouled off a lot of balls before sometimes he got into that hitter's count. Those kind of things are infectious, and we'll miss a little bit of that.

"But in the guy replacing him, or at least has the chance to replace him, Tyler Flowers ... we have Adam Dunn, (Paul) Konerko, (Dayan) Viciedo who can hit the ball a long way. But none of them can hit it as far as Tyler Flowers. It will be interesting to see what he can do over the course of a season."