GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Flowers felt the best he had at the plate in 2013 right before he underwent surgery. He has no plans to search that long for the same feeling again.
In order to provide the White Sox with some of the offensive presence they desire from their catcher, Flowers said he would stick with what works best for him. He didn’t find much success at the plate in 2013 — he carried a .195/.247/.355 line with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in 275 plate appearances — and struggled with every adjustment made. Flowers said he doesn’t want to be in the same situation again this season.
“I just decided at a point last year that I will do what I want to do more so,” Flowers said. “I’m not going to be rude to the other coaches. Everybody is here to help everybody be better. But there comes a point where you become so uncomfortable and you get so many directions on things to try and do that you lose who you are and what feels good to you. That’s more of where I’m at right now. I’m not just going to change everything just to please other people. I’ll be comfortable and do, for the most part, what I want to do unless lack of success dictates a change.”
The White Sox would love for one of their three young catchers to succeed.
Last season the team’s catchers combined for a .560 OPS, which ranked 29th among 30 teams in the majors. The White Sox believe Flowers and Josh Phegley have more offensive potential than they showed in 2013, but need one or the other to find a way to tap into it. They also need more defensive consistency from the pair, though general manager Rick Hahn saw enough at times. Rule 5-pick Adrian Nieto will also get a long look during spring training as the White Sox hope to fill their catching void internally after they had no success when the explored external options.
“What you strive for is to have the main No. 1 guy out there who is going to be that consistent presence,” Hahn said. “ And certainly our guys have shown spurts defensively where they are able of carrying that load. It’s a matter of developing these guys into being well-rounded players that are able to help us offensively and defensively and then staking claim to that role.”
Flowers hopes the adjustment he made late last season — after he had already lost his job to Phegley — gets him back on the right track. The White Sox had expected Flowers would strike out a bunch, but still believed he could be productive. Aside from a few games here and there, Flowers, just like the rest of an underperforming offense, struggled. He said the key to feeling good late in the season was a conversation he had with Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham.
Asked if he simply made an adjustment, Flowers said it was more but didn’t want to go into details. But the difference will be noticeable, he said.
“It was more,” Flowers said. “It was a thought before the swing. I don’t want to get into too much detail on it. You will definitely see the difference the first time you see me swing. … I’m going to stick with what I’m doing because I believe in it and I’m comfortable in it and it feels good. It takes everybody time when you start in games. You see 92 that looks like 98 the first week of spring. There will be adjustments as far as reacting to speeds, but I will stick with what I’m doing and you will see it when you watch me swing.”