Exactly three months removed from labrum and rotator cuff surgery, Tyler Flowers has already begun to throw.
Flowers, who on Monday signed a one-year, $950,000-deal with the White Sox, believes he’ll be at 100 percent health by mid-January. Were he to stay on track, Flowers would be in better shape than he was when he took over as the White Sox starting catcher last season. Flowers hopes to take advantage of his renewed health to improve upon a disappointing 2013 campaign, which saw rookie Josh Phegley take over as the starter in early July.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Flowers said. “I’m excited. I’m happy to still be with the White Sox. It’s always nice to return to where you’re comfortable with the coaches and you like playing. Now it’s back to work, but be a whole lot better than I was.”
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After he had experienced some form of pain since the end of 2012, Flowers had season-ending shoulder surgery on Sept. 5. Though doctors removed damaged tissue from Flowers’ shoulder, they found no structural damage, which cut down by half the amount of rehab time the catcher needed. Earlier this week, Flowers threw for the first time at a distance of 35 feet.
“It went pretty well, better than I expected it to,” Flowers said. “It feels pretty darn good.”
Flowers had the same good feel about his approach at the plate late last season after months of struggle. In his first full-time role, Flowers produced a .195/.247/.355 line with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 84 games. After a fast start, including producing the game-winning hit in each of the team’s first two contests, Flowers began to struggle.
Flowers got away from the swing and approach he worked on with then-hitting coach Jeff Manto and reverted to his old form. In essence, Flowers admits he didn’t have an open mind and that contributed to his offensive struggles.
He believes he and new hitting coach Todd Steverson will, similar to his work with Manto, focus on approach first and foremost.
“We’re not going to be analytical or mechanical,” Flowers said. “We’re going to talk about approach. It’s not any different than what (Manto) did. It was a lack of commitment on my end of simplifying things.”
If he can streamline the process, Flowers is confident he can rebound in 2014. He has no idea what the White Sox plan to do about their catching situation between now and spring training. But he’s just focused on himself and glad to have another chance to prove his value.
“If I do what I’m confident I can do, yeah, it’s just a matter of putting in time and approach,” Flowers said. “You have the ability. It’s just finding the mindset.”