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.
“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.
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.