Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Flowers' hot streak comes into focus
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- There are rules to Tyler Flowers' hot streak on offense and, as expected, they mostly involve his new glasses.
Rule No. 1: Don't call the Chicago White Sox catcher's hot bat a result of the sport goggles he has been wearing since ... well, since around the time his hot streak started.
The newly bespectacled Tyler Flowers is batting .458 with a 1.322 OPS over his past 15 games.
Rule No. 2: Despite saying the eyeware has nothing to do with his recent production, Flowers isn't planning to go back to contact lenses anytime soon, yet this shouldn't be called a superstition under any circumstances.
The rules are understandable, especially Rule No. 1. Flowers has put in some hard work and taken some unprecedented steps, at least for him, in order to get him back on track. Calling the success the result of a pair of spectacles would diminish that work.
Without anybody mentioning a pair of lenses and some frames, Flowers was asked what his secret has been.
"I guess the glasses, right? That's what everyone's saying," he said in jest.
If not, then what?
"I'm just trying to keep working," Flowers said. "I started doing a couple things a little bit different that I hadn't really done before and I looked at other good hitters around the league and they all seem to do it.
"I started working on that and kind of good things have happened since I started working on that and a good feel has been there most days since that, although (Monday) I actually felt terrible. Who knows what happens? Baseball's a funny game. I felt awful and had a really good game."
On Monday, Flowers had a home run, a triple and a two-run single in the sixth inning that put the White Sox in the lead and ended up being the game-winning hit when the game was called a half inning later because of rain.
Since the game before the All-Star break, Flowers is batting .458, with a mind-boggling 1.322 OPS over a stretch of 15 contests (48 at-bats). His batting average has gone from .213 to .252 over that stretch, his on-base percentage has gone from .270 to .309 and his slugging percentage has risen from .296 to .379.
So what are those things that other hitters do that he has finally adapted to his own game?
"I'm trying to be downhill a little more," Flowers said. "I'm trying to make a positive move toward the pitcher with the stride. I have a tendency to kind of want to stay back and that tends to make me collapse a little bit more on the back side.
"When it's there it's pretty good and when it's not, it's not very good. It's still something I'm working on and the majority of good hitters out there do that and I realized I hadn't been doing for a while now. I'm still trying to get comfortable with it."
And how much credit goes to the glasses?
"Zilch," he said. "I don't even notice them. I'm not an idiot -- I'm going to keep wearing them. I'm doing well, so I'm going to stick with them."
That sort of sounds like a superstition.
"I don't like the word superstition," he said. "I wear contacts usually so I'm not going to give myself an excuse one day of not wearing contacts or glasses and having a bad day and blaming it on something. I'm going to listen to the doctors and wear one or the other, but I don't think it's relevant to success or failure."