White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers entered Friday's game against Tampa Bay with a .375 batting average and a clear head. To a certain extent, the former depends on the latter.
There's also the glaring fact that about three in every five balls Flowers puts in play have gone for hits -- an astonishing rate, though one that statistically doesn't appear sustainable. No player has had a batting average on balls in play over .400 since 2002 (Milwaukee's Jose Hernandez, who had a .404 BABIP), let alone the .590 clip Flowers had coming into Friday.
But hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks Flowers is in a good enough place that when that regression comes, it won't torpedo his season. The key there: Flowers is in a good routine, and isn't overthinking things on a day-to-day basis.
"You know what, take what you get," Steverson said. "I know there's some pitches where he'd probably like to do a little more damage on, and that'll come as long as the approach stays there. But for the time being, you take what you're getting. I'm pretty pleased with his routine and thought process and ability to go from 0-4 to back to having a positive game."
Flowers went 0-7 with only a walk over a two-game span earlier this week, then followed it with a 3-4 showing in Thursday's series finale against Detroit. On April 15, Flowers struck out four times in four at-bats against Boston, then went 4-5 over the next two games.
Flowers credited Steverson's approach as helping him flush whatever happened the day before, be it good or bad. There's a consistency to his routine that he can fall back on if he feels a little off -- and it allows him to have that resiliency at the plate.
"It's very simplistic in everything we talk about," Flowers said. "I think that relates well to me, and he has the ability to get analytical and detailed with guys that want that, but for me I think I get overwhelmed with that and caught up in it too much. I think he's helping me do a good job to keep everything simple, take it one pitch at a time, one game at a time, all those cliches. But they hold true, sometimes it's tough to move past an 0-4 with four strikeouts, but I've done a pretty good job of that thus far and I'm going to try to keep everything simple and try to continue to do that."
As Steverson put it: "I don't like to chase ghosts. Ghosts are something that happened yesterday. I want to deal with what's in front of me and tackle that."
What Steverson wants to see out of Flowers going forward is the catcher hitting balls with more authority -- only two of his 24 hits have been for extra bases (one home run, one double). That'll be another way to combat the inevitable stretch of the season in which Flowers isn't seeing the hits fall like they have in April.
"You take the hits when they come, because there's going to be a time when that happens when you hit balls really well and you don't have anything to show for it," Steverson said. "It's not a recipe for hits, it's a recipe for approach."
That forward-thinking approach began to form in spring training, in which Steverson and Flowers didn't spend a whole lot of time talking about 2013 (Flowers estimated it was about a 10-minute conversation). It's been narrowed down to a smaller picture strategy, one that's helped Flowers take a better big picture view of the 162-game grind.
"There's gonna be a lot of good ones, there's gonna be a lot of bad ones too and there's going to be some in between," Flowers said. "To not put any more emphasis on the bad ones or the good ones has thus far helped me stay a little more even-keeled, even with a really good game or a really bad game."
Lately, it's been far more good than bad.