Over his last seven games, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers is 0-21 with 18 strikeouts. Three of those strikeouts came in four at-bats Saturday afternoon as the White Sox lost to Kansas City, 9-1.
Flowers was already slumping before embarking on this seven-game stretch of futility, hitting .210/.281/.395 in the 26 games between the beginning of May and his last hit on June 4. Somewhere along the line Flowers' timing was thrown off, and he hasn't got it back yet.
"When you're not doing good, you've got so many things going through your head," Flowers said prior to going 0-3 with two strikeouts Saturday. "For me, it's not really mechanical it's more like, what do I need to do to be on time."
The White Sox want Flowers to simplify his approach and not overthink things, the latter of which can be toxic during a pronounced slump. He and hitting coach Todd Steverson are still putting in the work -- for example, taking some high-velocity batting practice with a pitching machine cranked up to full speed and moved closer than 60 feet, six inches -- but the solution to Flowers' timing issue may be nothing more than picking up a confidence-building hit or two.
"Sometimes it's that blooper, that jam shot, that one on time when you say here we go, you're back," Steverson said. "But when it's swooning a little bit on you, it can wear on you a little bit where stuff that you've been able to do pretty much your whole career or life has disappeared on you for a period of time. You gotta get your wits back about you."
Thanks to his recent offensive issues, Flowers now leads the American League in strikeouts and has seen his OPS drop below .700. But something that Flowers thinks will help him is that run of success he had in April -- it's not like he doesn't have any success to draw from this year.
While Flowers' April numbers were inflated by a .560 batting average on balls in play (an abnormally high number), his timing was there and he felt comfortable at the plate during the season's first month. That month, as Paul Konerko said, gave Flowers a "base" where he can still have a good overall year if he pulls out of this slump.
Steverson said he was in a good routine early in the season, and sees part of the solution as getting Flowers back into that consistent daily approach. And keeping Flowers in a good place mentally is a big part of the solution, too.
"What makes playing baseball very hard is anybody can get a hit maybe once, but to come out here ever single day and try and hit, that’s the hardest part," manager Robin Ventura said. "That’s the stuff that will bring you to your knees, wear you down, not let you sleep at night, all those things. You just make it as simple as you possibly can to work your way out if it. I think that’s where he’s headed right now."
Flowers, while frustrated and working for a solution, has kept things in perspective. He's not the first player to go through a slump, and he's not the last -- even if his is more pronounced than the normal peaks and valleys seen during a season.
"I'm not Miguel Cabrera. He probably doesn't go through this," Flowers said. "But a lot of people go through it. I was talking to Robin, he went through it. It's not uncommon. Of course, when you're in this spot it feels like you're the only one that's not having good at-bats and all that.
"The reality is, everybody kinda goes through it. Just trying to stay positive and continue to work."