HOUSTON -- The White Sox say Tyler Flowers is still their guy despite some of the catcher’s struggles in his first full season as the starter.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura backed the backstop again on Sunday morning and said he likes the way Flowers has approached his at-bats of late. Flowers struck out with a man on second and one out in the ninth inning on Saturday but Ventura said his catcher’s at-bats have been more consistent of late.
In his last nine games, since Ventura, general manager Rick Hahn and others sat down and implored Flowers to stick with one approach at the plate, the first-year starter has hit .357 with two homers and three RBIs.
“Catching-wise he’s doing a great job calling a game,” Ventura said. “For me the hitting has become better. He’s going to run into a guy where he does strike out. But the quality of at-bats has gotten better for me. And that’s something we look at. It’s hard in this situation when we’re losing games that you pinpoint one at-bat. You look at the quality of the at-bats and it’s getting better.”
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Flowers has struggled defensively at times in his first season as A.J. Pierzynski’s replacement. He’s tied for the a major-league leading seven passed balls with Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia and Colorado’s Wilin Rosario. He’s also thrown out only 25.5 percent of base stealers, though much of those can be attributed to poor holds by White Sox pitchers.
Ventura said it's important Flowers maintains a positive frame of mind as he deals with his struggles.
“It’s key for him not to go down that road,” Ventura said. “Even for all of us. You can let yourself go down the road of feeling sorry or making an excuse. You can’t point a finger. Just play the game. Make sure you take care of your own business, pick guys up and be a good teammate. As soon as you start looking for reasons, you can’t make it back from that.”
One aspect the White Sox think Flowers has handled well is in the way he calls games. White Sox pitchers continue to have high confidence throwing to Flowers. White Sox pitchers rank sixth in the American League with a 3.75 ERA.
“Guys who go out there have to feel confident what he’s calling,” Ventura said. “You see when guys don’t gel you can see how uncomfortable it gets and it becomes more of a grind. When they’re in sync, and a pitcher can just throw it becomes an easier game.”