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."
Ventura not concerned about ejection consequences
CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura wasn't giving much thought Sunday to a possible suspension handed down by Major League Baseball stemming from his third-inning ejection Saturday for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Lance Barrett.
Ventura was standing up for catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was ejected by Barrett following a close pitch to Justin Smoak, and Ventura appeared to put his hands on crew chief Jim Joyce in an attempt to continue the argument with Barrett after Joyce moved him away. Ventura had no issue with how Joyce handled the aftermath.
"He's doing his job and I'm doing mine," Ventura said. "I even told him that I don't want to bump you. He said, 'You are not bumping me.' It was more of a dance than it was a bump."
The ejection fired up the U.S. Cellular Field crowd and both Pierzynski and Saturday's White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana praised Ventura for supporting them. Ventura wasn't arguing, though, as any sort of stunt to fire up his team.
"Guys are going to play," Ventura said. "I don't think they respond necessarily to what I'm doing or a situation like that. I'm just doing my job there.
"So, I don't know, I haven't really sat down and talked to anybody about it. You know, we got the win, that's all that really matters."
Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the club's television play-by-play announcer, also took on-air umbrage with Barrett's strike zone and the ensuing ejections. Harrelson was verbally reprimanded by Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf after criticizing umpire Mark Wegner for ejecting Quintana when he threw behind Ben Zobrist in the fourth inning of a May 30 game at Tampa Bay, but that didn't stop Harrelson from providing pointed commentary on what he perceived as Barrett's rough night.
Both Reinsdorf and Harrelson declined comment through a media relations representative.
Flight to Baltimore carries 1970s wardrobe theme
CHICAGO -- Prior to Saturday's contest, a smiling Chris Sale pointed to a pair of gold platform shoes sitting in his locker. Think Pee Wee Herman's shoes from the big shoe dance in his popular movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure.
Those shoes were part of Sale's wardrobe for the flight from Chicago to Baltimore, completing the wild 1970s golf attire worn by everyone in the traveling party. The clothes were provided by Loudmouth Golf, in an idea originally concocted by White Sox manager Robin Ventura, Minor League conditioning coordinator Dale Torborg and Loudmouth CEO Larry Jackson prior to Spring Training.
"They're in need of some loosening of the restraints right now," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "So, yeah, they are dressing in some loudmouth clothing."
Ventura claimed to never have worn such clothing by choice but was not be exempt this time around. The clothes were designed for each player by size and style. For example, catcher A.J. Pierzynski's pants were in Florida Gators colors, while reliever Matt Thornton's pants had Michigan Wolverines colors to represent their college football allegiance. Sale had dollar signs on his pants, signifying he's "money" on the mound.
"They made sure that I was not missing out. Nobody is missing out," Ventura said. "Even playing, we did stuff like this, whether it's rookie stuff or guys doing stuff. It's fun to just be able to do it and loosen them up and let them have a little fun.""You know we're all fans because anytime you get out of wearing a suit, we're up for it," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "As you see in here, it's pretty light and everybody's having a good time with it."
Olmedo willing to don catcher's gear
CHICAGO -- Utility infielder Ray Olmedo does not exactly fit the prototypical catcher's frame at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds. But following A.J. Pierzynski's third-inning ejection Saturday, Olmedo warmed up pitchers between innings and was ready to go in case something happened to Tyler Flowers.
"I'm ready for everything, all the time," said a smiling Olmedo.
"He was putting his gear on yesterday when I was walking around in the clubhouse," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his latest emergency catcher. "It's one thing on paper. It's a whole other thing to see him walking around in the gear."
Olmedo caught bullpens for two weeks while with Triple-A Charlotte and might try to do the same with the White Sox.
"Sometimes practicing different positions is good for you," said Olmedo, who hasn't caught since he was a little kid. "I do it because I like it."
Third to first
Dayan Viciedo missed a second straight start Sunday because of a sore right shoulder, after being scratched prior to Saturday's game. Manager Robin Ventura said the left fielder felt the soreness during batting practice Saturday, but didn't think it was serious.
"He felt it and didn't feel right going out there," Ventura said. "I don't want a guy feeling he's hurt one day and then force him back in there today."
The White Sox have put together eight winning streaks of four or more games, including a season-best nine-game streak from May 23 to June 1. The White Sox have lost more than three games in a row just twice, both being five-game skids, from April 24-28 and from July 18-22.
With 43 homers, the White Sox led the Majors in August entering play Sunday. They ranked second in the Majors with 169 overall and are on pace to hit 218. Alex Rios became the third player in team history to have 30-plus doubles, 20-plus homers and 20-plus stolen bases in a single season, joining Ray Durham and Magglio Ordonez from 2001.