Tyler Flowers wants to start … if they let him

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My favorite catcher is now Tyler Flowers of the Chicago White Sox, simply because he has the guts to say he’s ready to be the starter, never mind that A.J. Pierzynski fellow.

From MLB.com:

“When I look at the whole offseason, I’m preparing myself to be the starting catcher for the White Sox,” said Flowers, during a phone interview from his home in Atlanta. “When the White Sox tell me I’m not starting, then I’ll prepare to be the backup. And if I’m not the backup, then I’ll prepare myself to be back in Charlotte.”

OK so he’s kind of kidding around. But I think that’s an even better reason to like him. Baseball could use a little more happy-go-lucky banter, and a little less of the “I’m-just-happy-to-help-the-ballclub” platitudes. In fact, I would be signing up to be president of his fan club if he had said this: “And if I’m not in Charlotte, I’ll prepare myself to sell Lady Kenmores at Sears.”

He didn’t, but I’ll cut him some slack. After all, he was two years old when “Bull Durham” came out.

Flowers, who came to Chicago from Atlanta in the Javier Vazquez trade in Dec. 2008, did go on to stump for some time at DH in the upcoming season, joking that if Pierzynski got hurt, one-time catching prospect Paul Konerko could move behind the dish. Sounds like Flowers could be a nice foil for Ozzie Guillen, only perhaps without all the profanity.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.

Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.

The team has yet to confirm the deal.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.