Josh Phegley, Over Blood Disorder, Vies For White Sox Backup Catching Job

 Josh Phegley had been a high school Mr. Baseball from Indiana. He was a 22-year old minor league catcher considered a prospect.  A blocked pitch led to an ugly bruise on his thigh. But that is what happens to men of his profession.  So, Josh Phegley continued to play.  Until that bruise got bigger, and became an emergency.

Phegley was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rash indicating an abnormally low blood platelet count.  Considered rare, An ITP patient with an extremely low count is vulnerable to internal bleeding caused by blunt trauma.  Steroids and other pharmaceutical remedies failed to cure the youngster from Terre-Haute.  The next option was the removal of Phegley's spleen.  The procedure cost him most of the 2010 season.  After surgery, Phegley did not even require medication to control the former problem.

Phegley made it back onto the field in 2011, moving up late in the season from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte. He spent the entire 2012 season back in Charlotte, aided by the tutelage of his manager, former major league catcher Joel Skinner.

Currently in White Sox camp, Phegley discussed his medical past with Doug Padilla of  “It was more of just a mental struggle, I think, but it was a good learning experience,” he said. “I think I kind of took for granted being able to play every day and go out there. I’ve been extremely healthy all my life, and to have it taken away that quick kind of opened my eyes a little bit. But I’m glad it’s behind me and I learned from it.”

Now 25, the former first round amateur draft pick ( White Sox, June 2009) is hopeful of going north with the Sox this April.  Tyler Flowers has been given the starting assignment with longtime incumbent A.J. Pierzynski departed to the Texas Rangers.  The Sox official depth chart lists 30-year old Hector Gimenez, who has had cups of coffee with the Astros and Dodgers before garnering 11 at-bats with the Sox last September, as Flowers' backup.  None of the Sox non-roster invitees seems to be legitimate threats, nor do any have real big league experience.  Phegley feels it is his time to join the show.  The White Sox would prefer that Phegley play every day at Triple-A instead of riding the bench in Chicago. The next few weeks will be his chance to prove that he is ready. After what Phegley has gone through to get this far, my bet is he shows up in White and Black on the Southside sooner rather than later.

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