White Sox manager Robin Ventura said yesterday that Tyler Flowers will begin the season as the team’s starting catcher “unless something drastically changes.”
Josh Phegly, Hector Gimenez, and Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto are the other options, so it’s not as if Flowers had stiff competition for the gig, but he’s coming off a miserable season in which he hit just .195 with 94 strikeouts in 84 games while playing through a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.
Flowers admitted to hiding the injury from Ventura and the rest of the coaching staff, but he’ll get another crack at the job as a 28-year-old. Once upon a time Flowers looked like a decent prospect and his presence was part of the reason why the White Sox let A.J. Pierzynski leave as a free agent, but Flowers is now a career .200 hitter with a .652 OPS in 192 games and has never been considered a particularly strong defensive catcher.
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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.