CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers' struggles on offense this season have been far too great to allow anyone to get excited about a few good days at the plate, but a sense of relief was palpable anyway Saturday.
Acknowledging the red welt on the inside of his right thigh, Flowers treated it as a badge of honor.
“RBI baby!” he said, admitting that, given where he is with his run production, there was no way he was getting out of the way of an inside pitch.
He has also delivered some more conventional RBIs, delivering a run-scoring double each of the past two nights that put the White Sox ahead for good.
Flowers said he started to feel better at the plate about a week before the All-Star break but managed to hit only into some hard outs. It was finally in the July 13 first-half finale that he started seeing results, and he now has six hits over his past nine at-bats.
It’s still not nearly enough to get Flowers to talk about any kind of breakthrough.
“Well, I don't know if I'm quite locked in yet,” said Flowers, whose average now stands at .229. “It’s good to put some quality at-bats together. I got some pitches I was able to handle and got some good results out of it. Those could've been 0-for-3 with three good at-bats, but fortunately they found the holes and got the job done in those situations.”
If there were any mental or mechanical adjustments that have led to better at-bats, Flowers wasn’t admitting much.
“It’s really nothing major, just trying to learn how to trust myself, those kind of things,” he said. “It’s the kind of things that slip away from hitters all the time, it just took a little while to get a grasp back on that. That's what I'm grabbing ahold of right now.”
It is the first time since June 24-25 that Flowers has delivered an RBI in back-to-back games -- an ideal start to his second half.
“I don't know where he went over the break, but sometimes you can come back with renewed energy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Catching is a tough thing to do. I think you don't find too many catchers that are going to hit all year long. It's a tough position, and people that do it are special. With him getting some rest, maybe it kind of gets him going in the right direction.”
It isn’t as if the effects of four days of rest were going to last very long. After Saturday’s game, Flowers was already soaking in the cold tub with Sunday’s day game fast approaching. Ventura might start Adrian Nieto at catcher in the series finale, or he could stay with the hot hand and go back to Flowers, who wanted to make sure he was prepared.
“I'm really trying to take the positive out of things,” Flowers said. “There are so many negatives, especially from my offensive season thus far. I just can't get caught up in it, so I will stay positive. Priority 1: Swing at strikes, take balls. I think that's helped me a fair bit as far as being able to put balls in play, as far as increasing your chances of getting hits. I was able to take advantage of a few mistakes recently.”