CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers' offensive production in Chicago's pair of season-opening wins against the Royals fits right into what people seem to expect from the backstop.
Two home runs and two strikeouts -- a lot of power and a lot of swings and misses. Nobody on the White Sox denies that Flowers will hit his fair share of home runs to go along with numerous at-bats in which he doesn't make contact, but Flowers also believes he can post a solid batting average.
"I don't plan on accepting hitting .220 or .230. The goal is much higher than that," said Flowers, who is a career .275 hitter at the Minor League level and .207 in limited big league time. "So that's the plan. I think making adjustments is going to be a big key to having success."
White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto feels that Flowers' game-winning homer to left-center field Monday off Royals starter James Shields was a good sign, since Flowers' power base is mostly to right-center and center field. Flowers pulled another homer Wednesday against Ervin Santana, sending a solo shot into the left-field seats.
Manto added that Flowers has the chance to be a plus-hitter simply by getting regular at-bats. His most extensive big league experience came last season, when he had 136 at-bats in 52 games.
With those at-bats, though, pitchers will get a better handle on how to neutralize Flowers. So finding consistent success goes back to making those adjustments on the fly.
"There's going to be a more accurate report the more I play, and I'll have to recognize what teams are trying to do and try to adjust to that," Flowers said. "Deter them from trying to continue to exploit whatever weakness it is they find to get them back to somewhere where I want the pitches."
"He has a lot of good plate discipline. He's aware of the strike zone," Manto said of Flowers. "He has the ability, just knowing him through the Minor Leagues. He's definitely cognizant of what's going on. He doesn't have many moving parts in his swing anymore. That combination allows me to believe he's going to be better than average."
Reed considers slider vital to second-year success
CHICAGO -- Addison Reed threw six sliders and nine fastballs Monday in his 15-pitch save to preserve a 1-0 Opening Day win against the Royals.
A slider induced a game-ending groundout to shortstop from Jeff Francoeur, stranding Eric Hosmer at second base as the tying run. To have even greater success than his single-season franchise rookie record 29 saves in 2012, Reed knows mixing in the slider will play an important role, even if those sliders Monday weren't perfect in his mind.
"It felt good. It's just that I was yanking off on it," said Reed, who threw sliders on 13.8 percent of his pitches last year, according to fangraphs.com. "I know exactly what I was doing. It felt good in the 'pen.
"When I got out there on the mound in the game situation, I was trying to do too much. Just transfer what I'm doing in the bullpen to the mound, and I think everything will be fine."
Although he didn't use any changeups to shut down the Royals in Game 1, Reed certainly hasn't dropped that pitch from his repertoire.
"No, that's still in there. If the situation comes up, I'm going to use it, but I'm still throwing and working on it," Reed said. "With anybody, a well-located fastball is the best pitch, even if the hitter knows it's coming. If you can locate it any time, that's your best weapon right there."
"If you throw about 96 [mph] with a cutter, you can survive a long time," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, referring to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and his primary pitch. "But again, it's a tough role. Not only the physical stuff of what you do, but the mental stuff that goes with it. You have to have both of them to be in that role, and Addison has the stuff to do it. It's just getting out there and getting comfortable."
White Sox followed Pierzynski's role in near perfecto
CHICAGO -- A number of White Sox players and coaches spent the end of Tuesday's scheduled off-day watching Texas right-hander Yu Darvish come within one out of a perfect game against the Astros. There was a decided White Sox connection, with A.J. Pierzynski trying to join Ron Hassey as the second catcher in Major League history to be behind the plate for two perfect games, and Philip Humber in the Houston dugout.
Humber threw a perfect game, with Pierzynski catching, on April 21 of last season against Seattle. But this year's White Sox squad watched Tuesday's action more as fans.
"When [Marwin Gonzalez] got the hit, I stood up and started screaming because I was kind of mad," White Sox closer Addison Reed said. "That was an awesome game that [Darvish] threw. It would have been better if he allowed a hit in the seventh inning."
"I love watching baseball and I was into it, and I kind of felt for him in that whole situation and A.J. getting that close," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "Obviously, both of them did a great job."
Flowers has never caught a no-hitter at any level, although he did come within six outs of a perfect game with Zach Stewart pitching against Minnesota on Sept. 5, 2011. Stewart retired the first 21 batters he faced before Danny Valencia doubled to right.
The fact that Darvish rarely shook off Pierzynski's signs showed Flowers that the pitcher put his complete trust in the man who was the White Sox catcher for the past eight years.
"That's the kind of situation you like as a catcher, it's all on you," Flowers said. "You don't like it when they give up a hit at the end of the game, but a lot of that success yesterday was A.J.'s hard work and his preparation and that whole thing. It's tough when that happens, for sure."
Ventura can relate to Ware's gruesome leg injury
CHICAGO -- Count White Sox manager Robin Ventura as one of the very few who could relate to the pain felt by Louisville's Kevin Ware when the sophomore guard gruesomely fractured his right leg during Sunday's Elite Eight victory against Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
Ventura broke and dislocated his right ankle during Spring Training in 1997, although Ventura quickly recovered and returned by July 24 of that same season.
"You feel for him," Ventura said. "Few people can sit and see an injury or have something happen like that. I know what's going through his head. I think the recovery's the hard part, being able to get your mind around making your way back.
"He's pretty young, so I think that is in his favor. Again, your heart goes out to him for what he's going through."
Ventura passed on an opportunity to offer any analysis in regard to Derrick Rose's seemingly cautious return from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during last year's playoffs with the Chicago Bulls.
"We're talking about a different type of player, too," Ventura said. "Mine, they were, 'Just get out there as quick as you can.' With someone like Derrick, it's a personal thing, and he's the one that has to live with it. The team does, too, but in the end, it's his career and it's his choice."
• Paul Konerko tied Frank Thomas for third place on the White Sox all-time hits list with 2,136, on Wednesday, when he went 1-for-4 with a double against the Royals. Luke Appling (2,749) and Nellie Fox (2,470) rank ahead of Thomas and Konerko.
• Ventura believes that playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic gave Alex Rios an extra edge in getting ready for the season. He also feels that changes Rios made last year will lead to continued success in 2013.
"He just looks comfortable for me and looks the same as he did last year," Ventura said. "Just knowing what he's doing and how he's doing it."