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Levine: Phegley Demotion Leaves Backup Catcher Role Cloudy

By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) After committing to Tyler Flowers as their starting catcher, the White Sox on Wednesday optioned catcher Josh Phegley to Triple-A Charlotte, where he'll be the everyday catcher just a season after replacing Flowers late in the year as the go-to catcher in the big leagues.

The Sox must now chose between Rule 5 youngster Adrian Nieto and veteran backup Hector Gimenez to be their No. 2 catcher.

Nieto must stay on the big league roster all season or be offered back to Toronto for $50,000. The White Sox could also make a separate deal with Toronto in order to keep Nieto in the minor leagues.

Gimenez, 31, has been on big league rosters for parts of the last three seasons. He has appeared in 37 big league games with 86 plate appearances.

Nieto has only advanced as far as Class A. It's assumed he will need more seasoning handling a pitching staff before making the jump to the majors.

Phegley was upset with the decision to send him to minor league camp. Asked if he felt he had a fair chance to win the job this spring, he responded, "I am not quite sure how to answer that question."

"Coming into camp they knew what they had in all of us," Phegley said. "He (Flowers ) proved he was healthy from the surgery. Maybe they wanted to see what they could get out of me, I am not sure. It was a long camp, and we all had our opportunities."

None of the three with MLB experience hit for average in 2013.  Phegley batted .206, Flowers hit .195 and Gimenez batted .191.

Signing or trading  for a backup catcher is also a possibility for Chicago. Veteran Henry Blanco is now on the Arizona roster and may be available before the start of the season.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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