At SoxFest, Tyler Flowers was asked a few questions about A.J. Pierzynski and didn't shy away from the fact that they "started off a little rocky". He tried to make it seem like everything was now smoothed over and they have a good relationship. I didn't buy it and neither did 67WMAQ.
Flowers said the same thing yesterday and while Tyler said that they are bonding, A.J. didn't seem like a guy who is all too happy about hearing questions about his playing time:
"I don't think I have much left to prove, I've proven what I need to prove in this game. I'll continue to go out and do what I can this year and hopefully play a lot and I'll play when they tell me to play".
Granted, any veteran player who thinks he is being threatened by a younger player is going to have some negative feelings about the situation. At least I would hope they do. Unfortunately though, A.J. has a history of being a problem in the clubhouse. While it hasn't shown itself on the South Side, he has never had his playing time threatened like he may this year. Pierzynski is 35 years old and in the last year of his contract. The Sox are going to want to get an extended look at Flowers this year to see if he can handle the regular duties next season, or if he going to go the way of Mark Johnson, Josh Paul and Ben Davis.
Not only are people asking him questions about losing playing time to Flowers, but former catcher and current bench coach Mark Parent has said that they have to get better at stopping the running game of the opposing team. This is obviously a true statement, but A.J. might take it as an insult to him.
As Daryl Van Schouwen stated in the sun times, the relationship between Flowers and Pierzynski was icy due to the fact that Jake Peavy and A.J. had a blowup in the clubhouse and after working with him in a rehab stint, Peavy talked up Flowers.
Pierzynski has been a workhorse for the Sox. He has caught 1,000 innings every year he has been here. He isn't going to be happy unless he is getting regular duties like that again this year.
Flowers is respecting the veteran by saying "The guy works his tail off. If you’ve been around him, he works harder than anyone else I’ve seen. Looking in from the outside, this guy has done something special for the past 10 years, so I need to pick up and learn some stuff from him and hopefully duplicate what he’s done with his career.’’
If A.J. gets off to a quick start, remains healthy and the White Sox are in contention, this won't be an issue. It also won't be an issue if Flowers looks lost at the plate like he has most of the time during his Major League career.
However, a slow start from A.J. and some power and arm flashed by Flowers, like he did when he first took over for Pierzynski last season, and we could see Robin Ventura's first test as a manager. Is he going to respect the veteran? Will he give Flowers an extended shot if he's playing well? Maybe those are the questions A.J. is talking about.