CHICAGO | Catchers join their pitchers warming up their arms before the game, but don’t get the publicity or focus.
Tyler Flowers garnered attention for a sore shoulder that resulted in surgery in 2013. The White Sox’s starting catcher believes the shoulder problems might have originated through a different warmup procedure when he was backing up A.J. Pierzynski in 2012.
Now Flowers has a routine in which he makes nearly 50 throws prior to each game.
“Probably the last 15 to 20, I’m trying to cut it loose 100 percent,” he said. “You’re trying to simulate like some footwork. Like you’re standing and throwing out a guy at second. I definitely take my time getting loose as well, which is probably why my numbers are a little bit higher than most catchers. You really don’t want to rush anything, make sure the blood is circulating really good before you start cutting it loose.
“I like to get a number of throws in at 100 percent (pregame). The first inning can make or break not just for the pitcher, but the catcher, too. That could save your pitcher a bunch of pitches in the first inning, which is going to let him go deeper. Or keep a run off the board by throwing a guy out.
“I’ve always tried to look at it this way, catching-wise: You’ve got to be ready to block a pitch from the first pitch. You’ve got to be ready to throw a guy out from the first pitch, all the way to the last pitch. You’ve got to be ready.”
Abreu happy for Konerko the mentor: Rookie first baseman Jose Abreu is the logical main target for captain Paul Konerko’s advice when the latter’s not playing.
Obviously, hanging with Konerko since mid-February in Arizona has already had an effect on Abreu.
“I’ve learn to be a better person, to work efficiently in the areas of need,” the Cuban slugger said through an interpreter. “Those are some of the things I’m thankful to Paul Konerko.
“I’m very proud to be playing next to Paulie. I was over in the strength and conditioning room, Paulie told me, ‘Hey, I’m here to support you.’ That means a lot to him.”
Abreu also apparently shares another Konerko philosophy: Work on each at-bat based on the game situation and not pay too much attention to U.S. Cellular Field’s power-friendly dimensions.
“That’s one of the those things that can come back and haunt you if you’re looking at those things,” Abreu said. “I’m really concerned in staying in the right state of mind right now, and do the little things I got to do to be ready to play the games and help the team win games.”
Konerko’s own mentors back in the day: In his last season, Konerko will be asked to time-trip to his start in the late 1990s. He was the beneficiary of older players’ counsel.
“That was a pretty young team,” Konerko said of his first two Sox seasons in 1999 and 2000. “It was guys like Cal Eldred and James Baldwin. Some of the Dodgers (his original team) I had were Eric Karros, Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza. Tom Prince. Those are guys that looked out for me coming up getting to the big leagues.
“That’s how it works. You just pay it back. Hopefully I’ve been doing that for a good number of years since I’ve been up here.”