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Flowers' White Sox future hard to fathom

A year ago, Tyler Flowers went 2-for-18 during spring training, which was more than enough for Phil Rogers and Joe Cowley to float the idea that he should be dealt.

On Tuesday, Flowers went 2-for-2 with a two-out RBI single and a homer to left, giving him five hits in eight spring at-bats. He's pulling the ball with authority, which was a problem for him previously. He's also made accurate throws to second, with one baserunner kill to his credit in (I believe) three attempts.

He's basically doing what Dayan Viciedo is doing in right field. Viciedo is getting plenty of positive press and leading plenty to mentally carve out spaces for him on the 25-man roster.

The response for Flowers? Silence. Spring training stats have only been meaningless for Flowers when they're good, apparently.

It's funny how everything seems slanted against Flowers. He faced an uphill climb in earning Ozzie Guillen's respect, even before he had shown any fatal flaws in the Sox system, due to strikeouts. Mark Buehrle campaigned against the idea of a rookie catcher. Two newspapers suggested he should be traded due to a bad spring (even though he was fine in the spring of 2009). He plummeted off the top prospect lists after his one bad year, replaced in the catcher ranks by Michael Blanke, who would be lucky to have Flowers' minor-league career.

And now that he's playing well, he's still a nonfactor thanks to A.J. Pierzynski. More specifically, the particular contract A.J. Pierzynski signed.

In an offseason of backloading, Pierzynski's contract is draggin' the biggest wagon, with $6 million of his $8 million coming in the second year. If Pierzynski continues his decline, that's not a cuttable salary. And I doubt that's even a platoonable salary, when combined with his status and desire to catch 162 games.

Flowers does have a track to the 25-man roster, but neither are particularly encouraging. For one, it involves an injury, and who wants to root for that to happen?

And, should one of the two catchers ahead of Flowers become unable to fulfill their duties, it's still not that encouraging. If Castro goes down, Flowers will play once a week at most, leading to another small sample for observers to dissect. Small samples have not been kind to him.

If Pierzynski goes down during an "All In" season, what are the chances that Flowers gets the reins of the pitching staff for a meaningful slab of playing time? The Sox didn't trust Daniel Hudson to be the fifth starter in a pennant race, so I would imagine they'd look for outside help in this doomsday scenario.

Throw in Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko eliminating first base and DH from the possibilities, and all I see are dead ends. That's less than we hoped for when he was the centerpiece in the return package for Javier Vazquez. Then again, Vazquez had reached the end of the line when the Sox traded him, so maybe it's fitting Flowers appears destined for a similar fate.


Christian Marrero Reading Room

*Viciedo says he's not learning right field - he's "re-learning" it. But I liked this quote more:

"I don't want to be known as the chubby boy," Viciedo said. "I want to be known as the strong guy. I worked hard at that."

*Jared Mitchell will start the season at Kannapolis, but management is stressing to not worry. Kenny Williams said that Mitchell will resurface in big-league camp, and Buddy Bell still considers him a "can't-miss" prospect.

*Muhammad Ali visited the White Sox clubhouse, and a couple of things struck me about the video. 1) It's not often you'll see athletes in awe of other athletes like that. 2) A.J. Pierzynski's kid is practically a mini-me.

Also, Jesse Crain's after-the-fact tweet about Ali's visit made me think he was less than overwhelmed, although his previous activity shows how easily tone can be misinterpreted.

*Chuck Garfien has been knocking these one-on-one interviews out of the park, but this one with Chris Sale is the best of the bunch so far.

*Thanks to everybody who has purchased a copy of White Sox Outsider 2011. If you haven't ... well, there's still plenty of time.