By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — What began as a promising season for White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has turned into a mess over the past 45 games.
The starting catcher was riding the tide of a super-hot start that had him hitting well over .300 for the first month of the season. Since the middle of May, he has completely lost his hitting mojo, striking out at a record pace while losing all sense of a constant swing that he developed in spring training.
The affable catcher is digging deep with hitting coach Todd Steverson to find a way to identify the ball coming out of the pitchers hand.
“You assume that everyone has a timing element that triggers their swing,” Steverson said before Friday night’s game. “Through a lot of work and conversation, I asked him when do you link up with the pitcher? He said to me what are you talking about. For him to be surviving at this level without finding an exact time to get his swing started is shocking. Timing is everything. We are now working on him finding a point where he gets his swing mode going synced up with the pitcher.”
Flowers has struck out an astounding 44 times in his last 97 at bats. His batting average has dropped 100 points over the last two months.
“As of today we are trying to focus on my timing aspect of the swing,” Flowers related. “Over the last few weeks that has been the major issue for me. We had a good conversation last night on how to be more consistent. A lot of what he was saying is pretty new to me, so I am actually very anxious to get some at bats today and get a lump sum of at bats to try and figure it out.”
The idea of getting to a pitch with a before-the-pitch approach will determine if a new and improved swing can improve the contact factor for Flowers.
“Right now, it feels like I am late on fastballs,” said the catcher. “I am not recognizing off-speed pitches. Either I am chasing it or out in front of it. I have to get to the point where I am waiting on fastballs and then you can recognize off speed and pause or swing if you want to.”
One area that has not dissipated for Flowers is his attention to detail on defense. Flowers admitted last season his offensive struggles impacted his concentration on defense.
“There is the human element,” he said. “There was a point where the frustration set in for me last year. I am trying to make sure that does not happen this year.”
The pitching staff and coaches believe in Flowers. It is now up to the team’s number one catcher to regain his swing and confidence moving forward.