Over the past few games Tyler Flowers finally has the results to accompany how good he has felt this month.
The White Sox catcher has struck out far less since July and now he’s seeing positive signs from his increased rate of contact.
Could it be the glasses he has worn for the last 15 days after ditching his contacts? Flowers doesn’t think so, though several people have brought it up.
That’s because after a 10-week stretch in which he averaged a strikeout once every 2.59 plate appearances, Flowers has once again begun to produce like the player who hit .373 over his first 27 games. Flowers has a .385/.429/.577 slash line with as many doubles (five) as strikeouts in his last 28 plate appearances.
“Sometimes you just find certain feels and stuff that coincides with better looking swings or better reactions in game situations,” Flowers said. “A lot of times you work on things and you get in the game and there’s the adrenaline and speed of it that it kind of changes it just a little bit and sometimes little changes don’t work. I kind of feel like have a decent feel for something and it seems to be able to keep me in a better position for making contact and staying up the middle and such. It’s a challenge each day to find that feel.”
Hitting coach Todd Steverson believes a strikeout isn’t always the worst result. With multiple runners on base, it’s far better than a double-play ball. But that hasn’t always been the case for Flowers, who has struck out 105 times in 268 plate appearances this season.
Steverson thinks Flowers took a lot of good cuts over a drought that lasted from April 29 until July 8 -- he had a .150/.219/.240 slash line with four homers and 18 RBIs in 52 games.
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But he also knows Flowers wasn’t on the mark.
“It was just a matter of missing his pitch and having to swing at a lot of pitcher’s pitches,” Steverson said. “If you look over that span of time, he took some good swings, but he would foul them off. If you foul off your pitch in this game, you subject yourself to hitting his slider or his curveball or his good two-seamer. There’s a lot of statistics that say that’s not a good way to go about it.”
Starting July 9, Flowers replaced his contacts with Oakley glasses. He knows its not the solution, that its mere coincidence.
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But Flowers also has 10 hits in 28 plate appearances and has only struck out five times. Mostly it has to do with positive results reinforcing the work Steverson and Flowers have put in.
“It looks really strange, doesn’t it?” Flowers said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with it.”
So what does Flowers think the solution to his woes has been?
“Swinging at good pitches, getting in better counts,” Flowers said. “That always makes it a little bit easier. That's kind of the big objective, swing at strikes, take the balls. That helps you out a fair bit.”