Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

December 2012 Archives

Hahn on cutting ties with Pierzynski

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Rick Hahn knows he'll have to answer questions about A.J. Pierzynski at SoxFest next month. Pierzynski, who was mildy pursued, at best, by the White Sox in free agency before he signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, was extremely popular on the South Side. His departure leaves Paul Konerko as the only holdover from the 2005 World Series champions.

"I get it from a fan's standpoint,'' Hahn said. "I've been a fan myself. I was upset when Wilber Marshall left the Bears for the Redskins and when Horace Grant left the Bulls for the Magic.

"At the same time it's incumbent for our department to make the best decisions for the long-term health of the organization and put us in a position to win the most games going forward. And in this instance it came down to two primary reasons:

"The first being we believe in is Tyler Flowers' ability. We're not going to lose anything defensively. He's proven to [manager] Robin [Ventura] and the staff and his teammates his ability to call a good game and stick to the game plan. Our pitchers are very comfortable throwing to him. Offensively he has tremendous upside with ability to get on base and hit for power. He's obviously a different type of hitter than A.J. But when we acquired him there was very little question about him being an impact offensive player. The catching and throwing skills have really improved to where it has become one of his strengths.

"The second factor is we had more pressing needs that had to be addressed. That's in part because we believed Tyler's ability to assume that role. We had to bring Jake Peavy back and the pitching staff to continue to be one of our strengths. The way the market has gone, had we not brought back Jake it would have been a battle to replace him whether from inside the organization or through a trade. Additionally we had to acquire another infielder capable of playing third base and [Jeff] Keppinger [three years, $12 million] filled that need. So it comes down to a belief in Tyler and having to prioritize our needs. We're fortunate to have someone who is able to step into that spot vacated by A.J. and hopefully not miss much of a beat.''

On the market for Pierzynski, Hahn said, "All we can control is where we're willing to go. We can't influence what the other 29 clubs or what a guy's market is going to be. When we entered into this process we did not, and I'm not sure A.J. had a sense for how thin or robust the market would be. He ended up with a healthy one-year deal on a good team so it worked out nicely for him. At the same time it wouldn't have shocked me [if he signed] a multiyear deal. I don't know if that was because of age or what.''

At least for now, White Sox lineup all right with Hahn

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While adding a left-handed bat this offseason is on his to-do list, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn would be content with left-handed hitting Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn and seven right-handed hitters in the Opening Day lineup.

"We've made no secret that finding a way to balance the lineup is a priority for us,'' Hahn told the Sun-Times. "At the same time we're not going to make a move just so it looks good on paper, that we brought in a guy who hits left-handed and it balances out. It would clearly have to be an upgrade over what we're getting from a right-handed hitter in order to accommodate a left-hand hitter.''

Ideally, Hahn would like to add a lefty who can play multiple positions. But having established players at every position except catcher, where Tyler Flowers will replace the left-handed hitting A.J. Pierzynski, the Sox don't have a glaring need or hole in their lineup screaming for a left-handed or switch-hitting bat.

"That's a big part of it,'' Hahn said. "That left-handed bat ideally would have some positional flexibility to pick up at-bats from right-handed hitters on off days or if [manager] Robin [Ventura] wants to play certain matchups offensively or defensively. Move that player around depending on matchups. But to plug in an everyday player with 500 plate appearances who's a left-handed hitter, the only we we do that is if it makes us better on the whole.''

Which keeps the door open for possibly trading left fielder Dayan Viciedo, right fielder Alex Rios or second baseman Gordon Beckham. But as Hahn suggested, such a deal would have to knock his socks off. Viciedo could blossom into a 30-homer, 90-100 RBI producer and Rios was probably the team's MVP in 2012. It's not like Hahn wants to move them.

"We haven't found a transaction out there that makes us better,'' Hahn said. "We're still talking to clubs, and that may present itself in the coming days or weeks but if it doesn't it's because our options out there were more to make us facially more balanced than putting is in position to win more games.''

Hahn is feeling far from desperate to make such a deal.

"If this move doesn't happen by Jan. 1 or Opening Day it doesn't mean we won't be able to make a move during the season if it proves to be a more glaring issue,'' he said. "We did that last year, picking up [Brett] Myers, [Kevin] Youkilis and [Francisco] Liriano.''

Also, the Sox are fairly comfortable with how their right-handed hitters have performed against right-handed pitching. Here are the career batting averages and OPS percentages (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) for Sox starting right-handed hitters:

Player vs RHP/LHP

Keppinger .269/.333, .680/.864
Konerko .278/.298, .839/.914
Rios .276/.284, .764/.781
Ramirez .267/.302, .702/.796
Viciedo .225/.350, .650/1.033
Flowers .202/.210, .695/.693
Beckham .247/.240, .694/.694

Left-handed

De Aza .287/.257, .770/.701
Dunn .248/.222, .907/.786


Only Dayan Viciedo shows glaring differences, which is one reason why left-handed hitting veteran Dewayne Wise was re-signed as an extra outfielder.

"Right now the right-handed hitters we have hit right-handed pitching pretty well,'' Hahn said. "We'd love to give Robin more options to mix and match more and we might but we won't for the sake of saying, 'hey we have a left-handed hitter -- now we're better.' ''

Reinsdorf statement on A.J. Pierzynski

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Statement from White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on A.J. Pierzynski, who signed with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday:

"A.J. Pierzynski played a major role in many of the greatest moments in recent Chicago White Sox history. From reaching first base in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, to his double in Game 3 of the World Series in Houston, to his performance behind the plate during the 2008 "Blackout Game" division-winning 1-0 victory, A.J. was a key contributor, often in his own very unique way.

"Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago. A.J. epitomized Chicago's South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game. He came to compete - and to win - every day.

"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."

Pierzynski looks forward to new challenge

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A.J. Pierzynski said he wanted to finish his career on the South Side but talks with the White Sox never got serious while he was a free agent.

"It was really one of those things that just never seemed like it was going to work out," Pierzynski said on a conference call Wednesday after the Texas Rangers announced his one-year deal with the team. "It just seemed like they made some calls but it never got to the point where it was, 'Hey, let's move on something.'

"At the same time, am I disappointed? Any time you've been eight years in a place, you'd love to go back and I'd like to have finished my career there. But I'm excited and looking forward to a new place and a new challenge. I wish those guys [White Sox] nothing but the best. The organization, you know how I feel about Chicago and the fans there. It seemed like it was time for both sides and I'm sad about that but at the same time I'm excited because it's something new."

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Pierzynski after the season, in which the left-handed hitting catcher hit a career high 27 homers while matching his career high of 77 RBI. His Sox career began in 2005, the team's World Series winning season, and he became a favorite of Reinsdorf and the Sox fan base. Only Paul Konerko remains from the 2005 team.

Reinsdorf issued a statement about Pierzynski on Wednesday afternoon:

"A.J. Pierzynski played a major role in many of the greatest moments in recent Chicago White Sox history. From reaching first base in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series, to his double in Game 3 of the World Series in Houston, to his performance behind the plate during the 2008 "Blackout Game" division-winning 1-0 victory, A.J. was a key contributor, often in his own very unique way.

"Every White Sox fan appreciates and celebrates what A.J. meant to this organization during his time in Chicago. A.J. epitomized Chicago's South Side through his toughness, his attitude, his flair for the dramatic and his passion for the game. He came to compete - and to win - every day.

"A.J. will forever be appreciated and remembered by White Sox fans as a very special member of this franchise. He earned that spot in our hearts. I personally wish A.J. the very best with the Rangers and with the rest of his career. I suspect U.S. Cellular Field will be one ballpark where A.J. Pierzynski will never be booed. He's earned our cheers."

With Texas, Pierzynski will play for an AL West contender. He will catch and be used as a designated hitter. The Rangers needed a left-handed bat after losing Josh Hamilton in free agency.

"It's been a long time since I changed teams," Pierzynski said. "I'm looking forward to the first day of spring training and even the Fan Fest to get to know some of these guys. I can't wait to know them a lot better.

"To walk into the clubhouse for the first time and meet new people, I'm looking forward to it. It definitely puts a pep in your step and changes things."

Pierzynski, an agitator and feisty competitor who was cheered loudly at U.S. Cellular Field and booed almost everywhere else during his eight years in Chicago, was asked a lot of questions about his personality by Rangers media.

"The only thing they need to know about me as a person is that I want to win," Pierzynski said. "Whatever is said or been written, you can't change that. You can't make people change what they've said or what they've done. All I can do is play as hard as I can. I take pride in giving it everything I have every day.''

As for his reputation and being voted baseball's "most hated player" by other players, Pierzynski said, "Of course I'm tired of it. We're still going back to it. I get tired of talking about things I have no control over. I wish I could make it go away but it doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.''

He was also asked about being left off the All-Star team by Rangers manager Ron Washington. The subject came up when Pierzynski had lunch with Rangers officials last week, and in typical fashion, Pierzynski cracked a joke about it.

"It was over as soon as it happened,'' he said. "You're disappointed as a player because you want to go to the All-Star Game and be honored that way. But when it was over, it was over."

"I know [Washington] was in a tough spot. It wouldn't change how I feel about Ron Washington because I know what he's done in this game and where he stands. I'm over it and hopefully we can move on from that also."

Washington said of Pierzynski, "I always believed he did anything and everything he had to do to try to beat you.''

Pierzynski, who turns 36 next week, will be the Rangers No. 1 catcher ahead of Geovany Soto. The Rangers will pay him $7.5 million

"He's a winning guy," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "There just aren't that many catchers in the league that go out there and play every day. It is a demanding position and that says a lot about him being ready to go."



One-time White Sox manager Tony La Russa will take part in SoxFest next month, a first for the organization where La Russa started his managerial career in 1979.
La Russa retired after the 2011 season when he led the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series title. He managed the Sox from 1979 to 1986.
SoxFest will be held Jan 25 to 27 at the Palmer House Hilton and will include a number of the team's current players, including Adam Dunn, Tyler Flowers, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, Addison Reed, Chris Sale and Dayan Viciedo.
Manager Robin Ventura, assistant hitting coach Harold Baines, new first base coach Daryl Boston and new bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen also will attend.
Among the former players scheduled to attend are Ron Kittle, Greg Luzinski and Tom Paciorek, also a former Sox broadcaster; Carlos May, Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Aaron Rowand, Jack McDowell and Frank Thomas. Broadcasters Ken Harrelson, Steve Stone, Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson also will attend.
Information on SoxFest is available at www.whitesox.com/SoxFest

A Dog For Alex

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Cubs fan Darren Udaykee always considered White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn just that--one of the guys on the other team.
Until he found out how much they had in common as parents of a child suffering from epilepsy.
``I can understand how having your son live with such a miserable condition can affect you at home and at work,'' the Tinley Park resident wrote in July after reading about Dunn's son, Brady, now 6, and his family's search to acquire and train a service dog for him. ``Constantly worrying about your son's safety, as a seizure can strike at any moment--in the bath tub, in the pool, on the stairs, on top of the playground equipment,'' he wrote, thinking of his own son, Alex, 9. ``It's hard not to, but I'm always fearing the worst. And I'm sure it's worse for Adam as he spends half the season on the road.''
Darren and Kim Udaykee had gone through extremes for their son in the last six years, from a dozen different medications to brain surgeries that failed to provide the hoped-for help to control his seizures.
``He has seizures every day,'' Kim Udaykee said of Alex. ``He has an adult aide with him at school. He can't even go into the shower alone.''
Doctors, hospitals and constant monitoring are the norm for Alex, his parents, brother Scott, 22, and sister Brooke, 8.
``He's going to be 10 next month and can't be by himself,'' Kim said.
And they knew, too, about the help a service dog can provide.
``We've been informed how long of a process it is to obtain a dog for our son due to the logistics, time and costs involved,'' Darren wrote. ``My wish is that...one day my son Alex and Brady can live their lives as normal as one can without medicine and surgery.''
That is when the Dunns' story took on a new chapter as the Udaykee's story.
The family's situation touched dog trainer Stacey Larsen, who had worked with the Dunns for months to train Astro, Brady's service dog.
She reached out to them, learning more about their plight and the severity of Alex's condition.
Though thousands of miles away, Larsen became a friend.
``She said `I envision a nice black lab sitting next to your son,' '' Kim said.
That vision is about to come true.
Larsen reached out to breeders she knew, who networked with breeders in Illinois. The search led to Ann Garmon of Anthem Labrador Retrievers in Harvard, IL, a longtime breeder whose labs have been accomplished in the show ring, as field dogs--and as service dogs.
``She told us about `Ernie', a black lab puppy she was saving as a show dog. She said he had the right temperament,'' Kim said.
``Before even meeting us, she said she was going to save him for us.''
Garmon helped the family find trainer Pam Barnett, who runs Pack Leader Academy in nearby Palos Heights.
Her interest in training service dogs is personal as well as professional, having founded Paws Assisting Wounded Warriors to train dogs to help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
``Pam and I were very touched by [the Udaykee's] situation and we know how life-changing a service dog can be,'' Garmon said.
Then came a surprise from the community.
Kim's father wrote about the family's situation to Tinley Wish, a local organization that helps families in need.
Along with Alex's ongoing medical bills and trying to acquire a dog, Darren Udaykee had lost his job as an accountant for a time before this year.
The Udaykees were one of the nine families Tinley Wish selected to receive help.
The organization couldn't fund the purchase and training of a dog--costs that will run into many thousands--but they helped by paying the family's mortgage and car payments for a month.
And they delivered it all with the fanfare of fire trucks, squad cars and Santa Claus parading to the family's home on Dec. 15.
``Mayor Ed Zabrocki was here, too. They brought gifts for the kids--and lots of gift cards to Petsmart,'' Kim said.
Ernie got a present too--his village dog tag for the coming year.
``So many people have made this happen for us,'' Kim said. ``Alex is so excited. He said ``can I finally start doing things by myself?' ''
Ernie should arrive in early January.
``We're so grateful to Ann and Pam and Stacey,'' Kim said. ``She said `we're going to make this happen.' She was relentless.''
The Udaykees are grateful to the Dunns, too.
``None of this would have happened if they hadn't shared their story,'' Darren said. ``Please thank them for us.''
As it happens, the Dunns have followed the Udaykee's story through Larsen. ``And we're so happy for this family,'' Rachel Dunn said.
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Pierzynski accepts one-year deal with Rangers

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A.J. Pierzynski settled for a one-year contract for a reported $7.5 million with the Texas Rangers on Thursday, officially ending an eight-year run with the White Sox.

The left-handed hitting catcher's colorful stay on the South Side began in 2005, when the Sox won the World Series. He batted .257 with with 18 homers and 56 RBI that season, and in his final season as a Sox, Pierzynski hit a career high 27 homers and drove in 77 runs, matching his best RBI year of 2004 with the San Francisco Giants. He won the Silver Slugger Award given to the top hitter at his position, and the 27 homers were the second-most by a Sox catcher.

Cheered enthusiastically at U.S. Cellular Field and booed almost everywhere else, Pierzynski wanted to stay with the Sox, but management has been prepared all along to give 27-year-old Tyler Flowers a shot at the starting job. Pierzynski will be 36 later this month. While Pierzynski's age was a factor in the Sox not pursuing him harder, he showed few signs of slowing down, topping the 1,000 innings-caught mark for the 11th consecutive year -- the longest streak by an active catcher. His 100-plus games caught for the 12th consecutive season is the fourth longest in major league history.

In eight seasons with the Sox, Pierzynski averaged 15 homers, 25 doubles and 58 RBI. He batted .279 as a Sox with a .318 on-base percentage and .424 slugging percentage. Flowers is unproven as a hitter but will be an upgrade defensively, especially at blocking balls in the dirt and giving a lower target for pitchers -- Pierzynski ranked 107th of 116 major league catchers according to one defensive formula even though his throwing improved slightly in 2012.

His signature Sox moment may have been Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, when he alertly ran to first base after striking out on a pitch in the dirt from the Angels' Kelvim Escobar after catcher Josh Paul rolled the ball back to the mound. When plate plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled the ball hit the ground before Paul gloved it, Pierzynski was called safe. Pinch runner Pablo Ozuna eventually scored the game-winning run on Joe Crede's double.

The Rangers also have Geovany Soto at catcher and are expected to use Pierzynski in a platoon while using him at designated hitter as well. The deal is pending Pierzynski passing a physical, with is expected to be taken on Friday.

The market for Pierzynski never got very hot, even after the Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million deal and the Red Sox agreed to terms with former Ranger Mike Napoli for three years, $39 million during the Winter Meetings. The White Sox reportedly offered Pierzynski one year at $4 million after he made $6 million in 2012. There are conflicting reports on whether the Yankees offered a one-year deal.

"Nobody has meant more to Chicago in a White Sox uniform,'' Sox pitcher Jake Peavy said after signing a two-year extension with the team in October. "He's been a tremendous player. We wish him the best in free agency. If it doesn't happen, that's something we can't control. But everybody thinks the world of Tyler Flowers as a catcher. If his number's called, he can be the leader you have to have at that position.''

For Ron reasons, Rangers can make it up to Pierzynski

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Should free agent A.J. Pierzynski become a Texas Ranger, he can revisit that All-Star Game snub with manager Ron Washington, who passed on the White Sox catcher who deserved to go this past July.

Pierzynski, who was hitting .285 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI at the All-Star break, went on to win the Silver Slugger Award for American League catchers by finishing with a career high 27 homers, 77 RBI, .278 average and .827 OPS. Pierzynski turns 36 on Dec. 30, and despite his strong record of durability, interest on the free agent market has been mild. The Rangers, Yankees and perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays appear to be the only teams with interest after the Pirates signed ex-Yankee Russell Martin and the Red Sox signed ex-Ranger Mike Napoli on the free-agent market.

The Rangers, who need a left-handed bat now that Josh Hamilton is an Angel, met with Pierzynski and his agent on Tuesday. They have Geovany Soto under contract, but would consider a platoon while using Pierzynski as a designated hitter as well.

Many Sox fans are asking why Pierzynski, whose last contract paid him $2 million in 2011 and $6 million in 2012, isn't being courted more aggressively by the Sox, who will need left-handed hitting if Pierzynski is gone. The answer lies somewhere in a combination of factors: Pierzynski's age, his price tag will be high, his defense is replaceable, and the Sox believe Tyler Flowers, 27, deserves a chance at the everyday job. Rick Hahn can relate to that -- he got the general manager's job after waiting, with armfuls of credentials, for Ken Williams to be moved up in the front office.

While Sox pitchers say they like throwing to Flowers, a .213 hitter with 12 homers and 29 RBI in 136 at-bats last season who is solid defensively. Chris Sale was always quick to praise Pierzynski's pitch calling and leaership, and he threw out 19 of 95 base stealers (20 percent) in 2012, nothing to write home about but his best since 2005 as the Sox placed more emphasis on holding runners. Mobility and blocking balls in the dirt are the big-bodied Pierzynski's weaknesses which explain in part why Sox pitchers ranked fourth in wild pitches with 66. That said, Pierzynski supplies intangibles that Washington, who managed the AL All-Star team, alluded to in July.

"I feel bad for Pierzynski," Washington said after the Pierzynski-less AL All-Star team was announced. "The guy's having an outstanding year. He's been working with a very good pitching staff over there with those Chicago White Sox for many years. I consider him a winning player because he beats you any kind of way he can. He beats you mentally, he beats you physically. So I feel really bad for Pierzynski."

Pierzynski's response: "If he felt that bad he would have put me on the team. He had an opportunity to and he didn't do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad."

A significant piece of the Sox fan base will feel bad if and when Pierzynski puts on another uniform. A fan favorite since the Sox won the World Series in 2005, Pierzynski has made it clear that staying in Chicago is his preference, but he won't accept a modest Sox offer (one report says $4 million for one year is on the table) when more money and years can be had elsewhere. If and when the Rangers make a hefty contract offer, Washington won't have to feel as guilty as he did in July.

White Sox player development staff

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Chicago White Sox 2013:

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT INSTRUCTORS

Nick Capra - Director of Player Development
Kirk Champion - Field Coordinator
Curt Hasler - Pitching Coordinator
Tim Laker - Hitting Coordinator
Vance Law - Special Assistant to Player Development
Doug Sisson - Outfield/Baserunning Instructor
Ever Magallanes - Infield Instructor
John Orton - Catching Instructor
Dale Torborg - Conditioning Coordinator
Scott Takao - Minor League Medical/Rehab. Coordinator
Coaching Assistants - Robbie Cummings, Jerry Hairston, Chet DiEmidio

CLASS AAA CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS

Manager: Joel Skinner
Pitching Coach: Richard Dotson
Hitting Coach: Brandon Moore
Trainer: Joe Geck
Conditioning: Raymond Smith

CLASS AA BIRMINGHAM BARONS

Manager: Julio Vinas
Pitching Coach: Britt Burns
Hitting Coach: Gary Ward
Trainer: Scott Johnson
Conditioning: Shawn Powell

CLASS A WINSTON-SALEM DASH

Manager: Ryan Newman
Pitching Coach: J.R. Perdew
Hitting Coach: Robert Sasser
Trainer: Josh Fallin
Conditioning: Tim Rodmaker

CLASS A KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS

Manager: Tommy Thompson
Pitching Coach: Jose Bautisa
Hitting Coach: Andy Tomberlin
Trainer: Cory Barton
Conditioning: Chad Efron

ADVANCED ROOKIE GREAT FALLS VOYAGERS

Manager: Pete Rose Jr.
Pitching Coach: Brian Drahman
Hitting Coach: Charlie Poe
Trainer: Kevin Pillifant
Conditioning: George Timke

ADVANCED ROOKIE BRISTOL SOX

Manager: Bobby Magallanes
Pitching Coach: Larry Owens
Hitting Coach: Greg Briley
Trainer: James Kruk
Conditioning: Ibrahim Rivera

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ACADEMY

Rafael Santana - Academy Coordinator
Julio Valdez - Field Coordinator
Guillermo Reyes - Manager
Efrain Valdez - Pitching Coach
Domingo Michel - Hitting Coach
Angel Gonzalez - Infield Coach
Nelson Abreu - Outfield Coach
Jose Del Villar - Trainer
Pedro Gomez - Conditioning Coach

White Sox bring back Burns, Law to organization

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The White Sox are bringing former Sox left-hander Britt Burns back to the organization to replace Bobby Thigpen as AA Birmingham pitching coach, and they named former infielder Vance Law as special assistant to player development on Tuesday.

Announcing their player development staff for 2013, the Sox also named Doug Sisson to replace Daryl Boston as the outfield/baserunning instructor. Boston was named Sox first base coach in November. Sisson, who was fired as the Kansas City Royals first base coach in August, was Kansas City's minor-league field coordinator from 2008-10.

Burns, a Sox from 1978-1985 and an American League All-Star in 1981, was pitching coach for Sugarland of the independent Atlantic League in 2012. He served as the minor league pitching coordinator for Houston from 2008-10 and was a coach in the Miami and Detroit organizations before that. Burns graduated from Huffman High School in Birmingham in 1977.

Law, the head coach at Brigham Young from 2000-12, played 11 major-league seasons, including three with the Sox from 1982-84 and two with the Cubs in 1988-89. He made the NL All-Star team in '88.

Pete Rose Jr., who managed the last two seasons at Advanced Rookie Bristol, was named manager for Advanced Rookie Great Falls. Julio Vinas (Birmingham), Ryan Newman (Class A Winston-Salem), Tommy Thompson (Class A Kannapolis) and Bobby Magallanes (Advanced Rookie Bristol) also have new managerial assignments.

Director of Player Development Nick Capra and Field Coordinator Kirk Champion return for their second consecutive seasons in those positions.


PLAYER DEVELOPMENT INSTRUCTORS:

Nick Capra - Director of Player Development
Kirk Champion - Field Coordinator
Curt Hasler - Pitching Coordinator
Tim Laker - Hitting Coordinator
Vance Law - Special Assistant to Player Development
Doug Sisson - Outfield/Baserunning Instructor
Ever Magallanes - Infield Instructor
John Orton - Catching Instructor
Dale Torborg - Conditioning Coordinator
Scott Takao - Minor League Medical/Rehab. Coordinator
Coaching Assistants - Robbie Cummings, Jerry Hairston, Chet DiEmidio

CLASS AAA CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS

Manager: Joel Skinner
Pitching Coach: Richard Dotson
Hitting Coach: Brandon Moore
Trainer: Joe Geck
Conditioning: Raymond Smith

CLASS AA BIRMINGHAM BARONS

Manager: Julio Vinas
Pitching Coach: Britt Burns
Hitting Coach: Gary Ward
Trainer: Scott Johnson
Conditioning: Shawn Powell

CLASS A WINSTON-SALEM DASH

Manager: Ryan Newman
Pitching Coach: J.R. Perdew
Hitting Coach: Robert Sasser
Trainer: Josh Fallin
Conditioning: Tim Rodmaker

CLASS A KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS

Manager: Tommy Thompson
Pitching Coach: Jose Bautisa
Hitting Coach: Andy Tomberlin
Trainer: Cory Barton
Conditioning: Chad Efron

ADVANCED ROOKIE GREAT FALLS VOYAGERS

Manager: Pete Rose Jr.
Pitching Coach: Brian Drahman
Hitting Coach: Charlie Poe
Trainer: Kevin Pillifant
Conditioning: George Timke

ADVANCED ROOKIE BRISTOL SOX

Manager: Bobby Magallanes
Pitching Coach: Larry Owens
Hitting Coach: Greg Briley
Trainer: James Kruk
Conditioning: Ibrahim Rivera

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ACADEMY

Rafael Santana - Academy Coordinator
Julio Valdez - Field Coordinator
Guillermo Reyes - Manager
Efrain Valdez - Pitching Coach
Domingo Michel - Hitting Coach
Angel Gonzalez - Infield Coach
Nelson Abreu - Outfield Coach
Jose Del Villar - Trainer
Pedro Gomez - Conditioning Coach

Hahn 'not inclined' to trade away pitching

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Rick Hahn likes dealing from strength. He also likes having the depth in his pitching staff that, should the season begin today, would make the Sox contenders in the American League Central.

A starting rotation of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Jose Quintana lets him sleep at night. It also allows him to explore trades that could make his team better without one of them.

"We've been fairly popular because of our depth but we're not inclined to move any of that strength,'' Hahn said during Monday's conference call announcing the signing of free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger. "We'll continue to listen and explore options and should there be something that we feel is so strong we can not pass it up, we'll do it. But at this point we like our pitching staff, we like our rotation, how we match up against anybody one through five. And we like the strength in our bullpen. So it's really not something we are looking to do .. but if one of the alternatives makes us stronger we'll certainly pull the trigger on the right deal.''

The Royals, who were 12-6 against the Sox but not good enough against enough other teams to be a contender in the Central, traded top prospects to the Rays on Sunday for top-of-the-rotation starter James Shields and pitcher Wade Davis. It was a bold move that could prove to be costly down the road but very likely will help make the Royals contenders.

"You knew Kansas City was going to look to add to that offensive core they've had,'' Hahn said. "It wasn't a surprise to see them do it and they did it in a big way that makes them stronger. They picked up two very good arms in Shields and Davis. But Kansas City has played us tough the last couple years. We certainly aren't sleeping on them. It certainly will make the AL Central race more interesting.''


Chicago is Keppinger's kind of town

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The Cubs, Yankees, Diamondbacks and Mariners were among the teams that wanted infielder Jeff Keppinger. Getting a three-year deal with a playoff contender in a city he loved to visit and play in as a National Leaguer led to his officially becoming a White Sox on Monday.

"The team that they've got and the city,'' the versatile Keppinger said of his decision to join the White Sox without receiving promises about his role or position. "I really like Chicago. I was there a lot playing in the National League. I didn't play a lot against the White Sox but I played a lot against the Cubs and I really liked that city. I thought it would be a good fit for me for the length of the contract I got.''

The Sox reeled Keppinger in at the Winter Meetings in Nashville last week. After he passed a physical, they announced his agreement for three years and $12 million. Keppinger will receive $3.5 million in 2013, $4.0 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015. It's the 32-year-old's first multiyear deal.

"Jeff adds a valuable and different type of offensive player to our lineup," general manager Rick Hahn said. "Combined with his ability to play quality defense at multiple positions as well as his overall approach to the game, we are thrilled to add him to our mix.

"If we were to start the season today I would expect him to be Opening-Day third baseman, but there still is a fair amount of the offseason to go. We'll see how it plays out in the coming weeks and months. At this time it plugs a hole for us but he has the flexibility and versatility to allow us to be creative with other options as the offseason unfolds and into the next couple of seasons.''

Hahn said discussions with other clubs and free agents are continuing.

"We're talking to other clubs and other free agents about potential fits,'' he said. "I don't think we'll ever got to where we don't feel there is a spot to potentially upgrade the roster. Signing Jeff takes a little pressure off plugging that infield hole for now but it doens't mean we won't look at other potential upgrades on the roster.

Keppinger batted a career-high .325 with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 115 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. He started 41 games at third base, where he could be the Sox starter in 2013. He also started 23 games at second, 21 at first and 19 as the designated hitter. His .325 average overall would have ranked third in the AL but he fell 84 plate appearances shy of qualifying. Among active players, he ranks second with an average of 15.64 plate appearances per strikeout.

Keppinger said his role with the Sox wasn't discussed specifically. He fits the mold of No. 2 hitter, where he spent a lot of time when he played for Houston and San Francisco. He said hitting is what makes baseball fun for him.

"I like the 2-hole,'' he said. "With the Rays last year, I bounced around all over the place. It doesn't matter where I hit in the lineup. In the 2-hole I like the challenges. Sometimes you have to go up there with different approaches. Sometimes you have to take pitches and let the leadoff hitter steal. Sometimes you have to give yourself up for the team and move guys over. I like the challenge the 2-hole brings, it's tough sometimes but I pride myself in getting the job done.

The Sox agreed to terms with Keppinger during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., last week. The deal could not be announced until he passed a physical. Keppinger broke his leg in an accident at his home in November but is expected to be ready by spring training. He said he slipped going down stairs and thought he rolled his right ankle.

"I thought I could catch myself and didn't land right,'' he said. "It was pretty nerve-wracking when they told me it was fractured.''

He expects to get out of his walking boot Tuesday and was told by doctors he'll be ready for spring training.

Bell enthused about White Sox Rule 5 pick Sanchez

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NASHVILLE -- The White Sox added infield depth to their 40-man roster on Thursday, taking 29-year-old shortstop Angel Sanchez in the Rule 5 draft.

Sanchez, taken from the Angels, spent the 2012 season with the Houston Astros' AAA affiliate and batted .320 with a .390 on-base percentage. He has played parts of three seasons in the majors with the Red Sox, Astros and Royals and owns a career .255 batting average over 568 at-bats.

Sanchez can also play second base and third, and his addition will allow 20-year-old prospect Carlos Sanchez to open the 2013 season at AAA. Assistant general manager Buddy Bell said Sanchez could easily make the Sox Opening Day roster as a utility infielder.

"This is a lot different than finding a [pitcher] that is throwing 95 or 100 then you can just hope you can hide on your roster somewhere,'' Bell said. "This guy here, we think if it works out, it can really help our club from Opening Day and beyond that.''

The Sox must pay the Angels $50,000 and keep him on their 25-man roster for the 2013 season or offer him back to the Angels for $25,000. Sanchez is the Sox first pick in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 draft since they took Jason Grilli from the Marlins in 2003.

Sanchez, a native of Humacao, Puerto Rico, is playing with Mayaquez in the Puerto Rican Winter League where he is batting .344 with two home runs and seven RBI over 17 games.

The native of Humacao, Puerto Rico, was selected by the Royals in the 11th round of the 2001 draft.

"I actually managed this kid in Kansas City, and I loved this kid,'' Bell said. "He had some elbow issues at the time and I left before he came back after his injuries. I've been keeping my eye on him for the last few years.

"He was a guy that we talked about even before that list came out. He signed early with Anaheim and through this whole process we were talking about possibly Rule 5-ing him which we did today.''

With the move, the Sox 40-man roster is at 38.

Keppinger gets $12M, 3-year deal from White Sox

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The White Sox reached an agreement with 32-year-old infielder Jeff Keppinger on a reported three-year, $12 million deal on Wednesday.

Keppinger, coming off a career year in which he batted .325 with a career-high nine homers for the Tampa Bay Rays, presumably will be the Sox third baseman if Kevin Youkilis is not brought back. Keppinger can also play second base and shortstop, which gives the Sox options and could keep the door open should they be interested in trading second baseman Gordon Beckham.

It's possible Keppinger, whom the Seattle Mariners also wanted, was signed as a utility player. His presence doesn't solve the Sox shortage of left-handed hittting should catcher A.J. Pierzynski sign elsewhere.

Sox manager Robin Ventura would not confirm the Keppinger deal, which hasn't been announced.

The Sox ideally wanted a left-handed hitting third baseman if Youkilis was not brought back, especially if the left-handed hitting Pierzynski signs elsewhere. Pierzynski was still a free agent on Wednesday afternoon. The Sox haven't stopped talking with the agent for left-handed hitting third baseman Jack Hannahan.

Keppinger is a career .269 hitter against right-handed pitching, compared to .333 against lefties.

An above average defensive third baseman Keppinger is one of the toughest hitters in baseball to strike out. He fanned 31 times in 418 plate appearances last season, and is a career .288 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage.

He is recovering from a surgically repaired broken leg suffered at his home on Nov. 26, but is is thought to be ready in time for spring training.

Ventura on 2012 fade: That's baseball

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Robin Ventura is already looking forward to 2013, not that he doesn't need more time to rest up after his first season as White Sox manager.

Ventura, who finished third in American League manager of the year voting after keeping his team in first place in the AL Central for 117 days before it faded in late September, said he expects to be better at his job. His view of his team's settling for 85 wins and second place when a division title was within reach?

"It's baseball,'' he said during his meeting with media on Tuesday at baseball's Winter Meetings. "When you lose you can use a bunch of different words to describe it. You are outplayed because you didn't win. Were you fatigued? Yeah, but so is everybody else. Did you choke? Yeah, you can say it in a way that if you don't win you choke anyway. But it just didn't happen. Our worst stretch of baseball happened at the very end. That's part of baseball. We didn't hit very well. For that period of time it felt like we couldn't score and if we did score, we didn't pitch well that particular night. That's baseball. The effort was there. Being prepared and all those other things were there, it just didn't happen.''

General manager Rick Hahn said Ventura, who was hired as Ozzie Guillen's replacement with no experience, exceeded expectations.

"We knew he had the potential to grow into one of the finer managers in the league and I think he got there a lot more quickly than we even anticipated,'' Hahn said. "Whether it be communicating with the players to setting the tone to focus on what helps us win that night's game to really his in-game management strategy to put his players in position to succeed. He was fantastic for us and we're looking forward to him being a veteran manager next year.''

Ventura downplayed the kudos.

"I don't see it as I was good at it,'' Ventura said. "I can get better. That's hopefully what happens.

"I think any time you go into something, you think you know it all or are done learning, you're going backwards. Getting better with in-game stuff, in-between game stuff and even after game stuff with you guys [media] would hopefully I get better at.

"I think for the most part I let [players] play. Early on, doing some bunting or things like that. But I realize they're the ones that have to play and I would rather stay out of it. I'd rather them perform than me sit back and think that I can actually win the game by myself. They're the ones that are going to win the game.''

Ventura plans on emphasizing situational at-bats at spring training, especially with runners on third base.

"For us, leaving guys on third base as much as we did down the stretch, you want to make that a common at-bat instead of them feeling like there's a lot of pressure when that happens,'' he said. "I don't know if you start spring having a drill being a part of that but it is a point of emphasis of being able to get that done because it sets you back when you don't get that run in or moving guys along. Situation stuff is going to be more put into play in spring training as far as a drill or playing games.''

Hahn said he hopes to give Ventura a more flexible roster that would give him the wherewithal to be a better in-game manager.

"Perhaps this year we'll give him a roster that has a little more flexibility, which will be a challenge for him to put the guys in the right position, to get the most out of the player who has some positional flexibility or having more lineup options on a given day based on who we're facing,'' Hahn said. "Part of that is incumbent on us.''

Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12, earlier than usual because of the World Baseball Classic.

"I am looking forward to it but you don't want to start looking forward to it in December and have to wait for it,'' Ventura said. "When it gets here we'll be ready to go but it's nice being home with the family too.

"[Managing] is not as fun as playing. But it's pretty close.''

Hahn sings Ventura's praises

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rick Hahn said Robin Ventura may have "exceeded expectations'' in his first season as White Sox manager.

"We knew he had the potential to grow into one of the finer managers in the league and I think he got there a lot more quickly than we even anticipated,'' Hahn said Wednesday. "Whether it be communicating with the players to setting the tone to focus on what helps us win that night's game to really his in-game management strategy to put his players in position to succeed. He was fantastic for us and we're looking forward to him being a veteran manager next year.''

Ventura, who finished third in American League Manager of the Year voting behind Bob Melvin and Buck Showalter, downplayed the kudos.

"I don't see it as I was good at it,'' Ventura said. "I can get better. That's hopefully what happens.

"I think any time you go into something, you think you know it all or are done learning, you're going backwards. Getting better with in-game stuff, in-between game stuff and even after game stuff with you guys [media] would hopefully I get better at.''

Hahn said he hopes to give Ventura a more flexible roster that would give him the wherewithal to be a better in-game manager.

"Perhaps this year we'll give him a roster that has a little more flexibility, which will be a challenge for him to put the guys in the right position, to get the most out of the player who has some positional flexibility or having more lineup options on a given day based on who we're facing,'' Hahn said. "Part of that is incumbent on us.''

More DH time for White Sox' Konerko, first base for Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Manager Robin Ventura said he expects to give Adam Dunn more time at first base next season while increasing Paul Konerko's time as the designated hitter.

"I think that will probably happen,'' Ventura said at baseball's Winter Meetings on Tuesday. "I think, for Paulie, what goes through the course of the year is a lot. It's a lot to have him be the every day first baseman. I think Adam proved to be at the end he can play first base and give Paulie more time and when you get to that age, not that he's done by any means, it's going to help him to have time off and not be on his feet so much."

Konerko, entering the last year of a three-year contract, will turn 37 during spring training. He is listed by Bill James as the worst defensive first baseman in the majors with a minus-11 runs saved in 2012. Konerko has sure hands and turns the double play well but has never been quick on his feet and may have seen a decline in his range.

Dunn, while not Gold Glove caliber, was not as bad as some expected him to be. He seemed to thrive on being out on the field and it may have indirectly helped his hitting after his first full season as a DH in 2011.

"He's athletic,'' Ventura said. "That's another part of it. You're not sticking a guy over there who can't play. He can play. So getting him committed to do it isn't going to be hard to do. He likes being on the field.''

Still quiet on White Sox front, and that's OK with Hahn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Two days into the Winter Meetings and an hour or so before general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura meet with media, all is relatively quiet on the White Sox front. That's the way Hahn likes it, as far as the flow of public information goes, anyway.

"We prefer to keep as much as we can under the radar,'' Hahn told the MLB Network Tuesday morning. "When we're able to operate without other clubs, agents or players knowing what we're thinking it's much, much easier for us to navigate.

"We've had a number of instances over the years - and it's gotten worse with Twitter now - where something starts leaking out and all of a sudden our pace accelerates because we have to get this thing done before another club jumps in or something falls apart. We realize [the media has] a job to do and play a huge role in generating excitement about the offseason or trade deadline moves, but boy, it makes life hard for us sometimes.''

A report began to circulate that free agent A.J. Pierzynski's agent is having discussions with the Yankees, who became one of the logical landing spots for the catcher after Russell Martin jumped to the Pirates. The Red Sox signed Mike Napoli on Monday, to play first base, designated hitter and catch.

Napoli's presence in Boston could prompt the Red Sox to trade 27-year-old switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, perhaps to the White Sox in a deal for right-hander Gavin Floyd. Such a move would give the Sox needed hitting from the left side. It would also spoil Tyler Flowers' shot at becoming an everyday catcher.

Pulling the trigger on a significant trade will be an important first for Hahn, who took over as GM from Ken Williams.

"Kenny and I had that conversation last night,'' Hahn said. "It is possible with any deal, even when there is a huge consensus in the room that this makes sense to your organization to see the down side, what could go wrong ... to see the greener pastures that lie ahead if you just wait for the perfect deal. The perfect deal is not walking through that door. So it's a matter of making the best decision on the information you have when the time comes.

"I don't want to lose any of that aggressiveness or creativity that Kenny has. Having him by my side is going to help to make sure that we continue to look for that big move.''

While wanting to stay aggressive, Hahn is emphasizing building a solid base for the organization.

"I will say in that last year and a half you've seen us devote more resources to our international scouting and amateur scouting,'' he said. "We've added seven scouts since the offseason began and we spent close to $10 million on amateur talent last year. I want to continue on in that vein as well - building up our farm system and building from the bottom up to enhance our resources.''


Hahn's first meeting with Reinsdorf

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A memory from White Sox general manager, as he re-told his first meeting with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on the MLB Network Tuesday morning:

The well-educated Hahn, with a bachelor's degree from Michigan and degrees from Harvard Law School and Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management -- and two years working for the Steinberg, Moorad & Dunn sports agency -- was told by Reinsforf to look for another job. But not because his qualifications were lacking.

"It's funny, when I first met Jerry Reinsdorf in 1996, I walked into his office, he had a copy of my resume and didn't know me from Adam. Before he even turns around, in a little more colorful language I can use on the air, he said, 'I don't know what you're doing here. You're wasting my time, you're wasting your time. You've got all this education, go do something real with your life. You don't want to be working in baseball. Buy season tickets if you want to be involved in baseball.' ''

"Now Jerry denies that story to this day but I guarantee it's true and I have a written rejection letter to prove it. But this is where my passion was. I wanted to be a part of building a championship baseball team. When it became obvious that genetics was going to prevent me from playing in the big leagues, this seemed like my best route to capturing some of that excitement.''

Hahn likes how White Sox stack up against Tigers

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The White Sox owned a three-game lead on the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central on Detroit Tigers and seemingly were in good shape. Turns out the lead wasn't big enough as the Tigers blew by them and finished three games ahead before advancing to the World Series.

Since then, the Tigers signed free agent Torii Hunter in November, and they'll get designated hitter Victor Martinez back next season.

"They're going to be tough, and we measure ourselves against how likely we are to compete with them,'' Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during an interview with the MLB Network on Tuesday morning. "We have some work to do but we feel pretty good about how we match up.''

Hahn does have work to do, including the task of settling on a third baseman and replacing catcher A,J. Pierzynski's left-handed bat should he leave in free agency. Those are bigger needs right now than the Tigers' needs.

"They're the defending AL champs,'' Hahn said Monday. "They've added a great player in [veteran outfielder] Torii Hunter and have Victor Martinez, another great player. We have to be aware of what we're chasing. It certainly factors into the team we want to build. We can't look at ourselves and say, as we look around our room and talk to our scouts and coaches and look at our clubs and say maybe we're an 80-82 win team. We can't think in good faith that's going to capture the Tigers, given what they've accomplished in the players they've added.''

The Sox were an 85-win team in 2012. Because of a starting rotation that features Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd -- as of Tuesday morning barring a trade -- and a decent bullpen, Hahn doesn't view his team as an also-ran.

"Fortunately, we don't look at ourselves that way. We like our team,'' Hahn said. "We like the fact we're bringing back Jake Peavy. We like the fact Chris Sale will be a year deeper into our career. Our bullpen will have experience under their belt from last year, that we'll add our opening day starter [Danks] from last year who really didn't factor in much from last year. So we factor in ourselves much better. But we still have some areas we need to improve to compete with the Tigers."

Hahn: Trade, free agent options "coming close to decision"

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Rick Hahn has meetings with agents and fellow general managers lined up for Tuesday. Whether anything comes of it, well, stay tuned.

"We do feel that some of the options we like are starting to come close to making a decision, whether it be via free agency or via trade," Hahn said Monday, the first day of baseball's Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. "And if we want to move forward, that very well may have to come to a head in the coming days. But we certainly don't feel any pressure that we have to make a move.''

Hahn talked to media after meeting with the Sox brain trust, including Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

"We had everybody in to talk about different scenarios,'' he said. "We did have a couple of conversations with other clubs and agents already today. I think being here, there's a sort of heightened energy and expectation and everyone is here in the same place.''

Hahn said other GMs have been asking about his pitching, which could be characterized as deep by most standards, especially in the starting rotation. Gavin Floyd is thought to be expendable, although Jake Peavy is the only other right-handed starter in the rotation. While center fielder Alejandro De Aza's and second baseman Gordon Beckham's names haven't churned rumor mills, it's not out of the question that they could be traded in a deal that makes sense. The Sox did re-sign veteran center fielder Dewayne Wise, perhaps as a safety net.

Hahn wasn't tipping his hand. Asked if was close on any moves, he said, "You know what I compare it to? It's like with my wife. She doesn't care where I travel to. I'm either home or not home. So either the [deal] is done or not done. It's not close. We're not on the doorstep. We're not on the cusp of announcing something. It's either done or not done. Right now, nothing is done."

The Sox top priority is solidyfing third base. They are mapping out numerous scenarios in the event Kevin Youkilis is not re-signed.

They are prepared to move on with Tyler Flowers as the No. 1 catcher if free agent fan favorite A.J. Pierzynski signs elsewhere. Hahn talked up Flowers' ability on Monday.

"I don't think we're going to lose anything defensively or the ability to stick to the game plan,'' he said. "Our pitchers like throwing to Tyler. Our coaches are comfortable with him sticking to the plan and he gets it. He's worked hard at that over the years.

"When we acquired Tyler he was viewed as a offense-first guy. Would he be able to catch? He then, for a little bit there in the minors, swung that around 180 degrees and everyone was thrilled with how he was catching and throwing and the bat suffered a little bit. We really don't feel we're going to lose anything defensively or with handling of the pitching staff, which is obviously a huge part and it's something A.J. got a lot of credit for. So it's a high standard we think he can live up to with what AJ's reputation was.''

The big loss will be Pierzynski's bat.

"Offensively, it's going to be different,'' Hahn said, who then slowed down and cautioned that Pierzynski isn't gone yet. "We're not there yet. I sort of feel like we're almost a week or two ahead of this conversation in terms of what Tyler is going to be if he's the everyday catcher. Let's see what happens with A.J. first. But Tyler is going to get on base, he's going to hit with some power. He's going to strike out a lot more than A.J., the batting average is going to probably be lower. But he's still going to be a pretty solid offensive player and I think better than what you saw in 2012 because it's tough with sporadic play time and young player.''

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