By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — The White Sox as a franchise were a bit concerned about the catching position when Tyler Flowers failed in his first go-round as a starter in 2013. Flowers, replacing the ultra-popular A.J Pierzynski, was a disappointment on both offense and defense in his first season as a starter.
After the first six weeks of this season, Flowers was hitting .350 before his season took a downward turn in June. Two things helped turn it around. The most significant move occurred off the field, as Flowers had his eyes tested and was fitted for glasses. Fast forward to July 8 in Boston, where he wore the specs for the first time. Since that time he has hit .293 and raised his average back to .251 to go with eight homers and 39 RBIs
Step two has been to drive the baseball into the gaps.
“I have been working on going downhill with my approach,” Flowers said. “That has helped in getting the direction of the swing going through the ball. My route to ball was not as direct, I was hitting glancing strokes. I have also been concentrating using the big part of the ballpark, kind of like I used to do when I pulled the ball more.”
The catcher’s defense has improved quite a bit over the last two months. Early in the campaign, balls were going back to the screen often. A lot of that was the function of young bullpen pitchers bouncing 59-foot sliders.
“A lot of that has gotten better, with the confidence our young pitchers have gained,” Flowers said. “My job is to work through these things and help them believe in my pitch selection and ability to block balls in the dirt.”
Flowers was a 33rd-round draft by Atlanta in the 2005 draft. Having later watched Flowers in the Arizona Fall League, then-White Sox general manager Ken Williams set his sights on obtaining Flowers. He did, trading Javier Vasquez to the Braves for Flowers and Brent Lillibridge in 2008.
“I was aware that Kenny had scouted me,” Flowers said. “He told me when I came over I had a chance to be a good player. He said I had a lot of work to do, but he believed I could get it done.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.