Tyler Flowers is 27 but never has played more than 52 games in a major league season. The White Sox, though, have seen enough to make him the replacement for All-Star catcher — and South Side fan favorite — A.J. Pierzynski. Think Flowers will have a little pressure on himthis season? "Yes, there is a concern (about the pressure),'' White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto said. "He's going to try to do well and win over fans and make a media impact. That will be a challenge, just to make him focus on what he can do." In other words, Manto and first-year general manager Rick Hahn know that Flowers might fail before he succeeds, if he succeeds at all. "He will make mistakes … and we'll just have to move quickly from them," Manto said Thursday in a spring-training preview conference call. No one expects Flowers to replicate Pierzynski's offensive numbers from last season: 27 homers, 77 RBIs and a .278 average. But he has shown occasional power, although his batting average has been low and his strikeouts high. Of course, being a catcher is more than just putting up offensive numbers. The truth is, Sox pitchers enjoy throwing to the 6-foot-4 target who learned their strengths while caddying for Pierzynski. Coincidence or not, Sox pitchers compiled a 4.04 ERA while he was catching compared to 4.16 for Pierzynski. Manto said he was "pleasantly surprised" after watching video of Flowers swinging this winter. But then, the second-year hitting coach is nothing if not optimistic. He's a big believer in Gordon Beckham returning to his 2009 rookie form, especially after finishing with a strong final two months, that Brent Morel could return from chronic back pain to be a factor and that free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger will be their most versatile hitter.
Sox hitting coach confident in charges
Chicago Tribune | Feb 8