White Sox' Flowers starting to blossom
Catcher is batting .308 in June
- Photos (1)
White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers celebrates with Addison Reed after the Sox beat Toronto on Monday.
Judging from the season-long responses I've been getting, most White Sox fans really miss A.J. Pierzynski.
And there's been growing support for Josh Phegley, who is batting .313 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 48 games with Class AAA Charlotte. The 25-year-old catcher also ranks second in the International League with a .604 slugging percentage.
White Sox vs. Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park
TV: WCIU today; FOX Saturday; Comcast SportsNet Sunday-Monday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The Sox' Chris Sale (5-4) vs. Erik Bedard (1-3) today at 7:10 p.m.; John Danks (1-2) vs. Lucas Harrell (4-7) Saturday at 6:15 p.m.; Hector Santiago (2-4) vs. Dallas Keuchel (3-3) Sunday at 1:10 p.m.; Jose Quintana (3-2) vs. Bud Norris (5-6) Monday at 7:05 p.m.
At a glance: The White Sox get their first crack at the lowly Astros as an American League team. Houston has the worst record (23-44) in the AL and ranks last with a 4.85 ERA. The Sox are sixth with a 3.79 ERA. The Astros won two of three vs. the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field last season while scoring 20 runs in the series. Adam Dunn is 8-for-15 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI over his last four games. Sale has lost his last two starts, both against the A's, while allowing 5 runs on 9 hits in 131⁄3 innings. Second baseman Jose Altuve (.294, 3 HRs, 26 RBI) leads Houston's offense. The Sox have lost nine of their last 10 on the road.
Next: Minnesota Twins, Tuesday-Thursday at Target Field
— Scot Gregor
As for Tyler Flowers, let's just say he hasn't generated much support after replacing Pierzynski as the Sox' No. 1 catcher.
At least not yet.
After going 0-for-3 at Seattle on June 3, Flowers was batting a less-than-robust .196.
The White Sox weren't expecting the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder to hit like Pierzynski, but they weren't expecting a sub-.200 average two months into the season, either.
Give Flowers some credit for identifying the problem and working to fix it.
"I haven't really lacked confidence," he said. "It just seems to be more of a matter of finding an approach that's giving me a chance to be productive. I think I have found something that has been giving me a chance to compete every day and every at-bat."
Over the first two months of the season, Flowers looked overly anxious in the batter's box, and he was an easy strikeout victim. Now, he's become a much more patient hitter.
"I'm just trying to let the ball get deeper in general," Flowers said. "That's kind of the gist of it. Don't be worried about being late or getting jammed. It seems that I have been giving myself a better chance to recognize off-speed pitches.
"I have a chance to get the barrel on them. That's mainly more my focus. I'm not really thinking about anything mechanically. I'm trying to almost encourage myself to be late to really recognize pitches and to give myself a better chance."
The change in philosophy has been paying off.
Flowers was 2-for-4 in Tuesday night's loss to the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field, and he's 8-for-26 (.308) in June. That's boosted his batting average to .222.
The new approach seems to be working, but Flowers knows he has to keep working to avoid another extended slump. As long as continues seeing the ball, Flowers should continue to be a tougher out.
"I've changed a lot over the short course of this season, but more mechanically," he said. "I really wasn't thinking about my approach or the direction I'm trying to hit the ball being a big contributing factor, which it seems to be. The funny thing is, it seems to kind of clean up the mechanics a little bit without even thinking about it."
"It's still early enough in the season where you might have to make adjustments, but right now it feels like this approach is giving me a chance to compete every at-bat on a variety of pitches."
While his bat is finally coming around, Flowers needs to clean up on the defensive side.
He is tied for the American League lead with 4 errors and 7 passed balls. Flowers was guilty of one of each in Tuesday's loss to Toronto, and both miscues allowed runs to score.
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