MINNEAPOLIS -- Make that three shutouts caught by Tyler Flowers in a span of 10 games.
If there was one thing Flowers hoped to show the White Sox when he returned to the big leagues July 10 it was that he was capable at guiding the pitching staff from behind the plate.
“I know these guys appreciate the job I have been doing back there,” Flowers said. “That’s the ultimate compliment for the catcher, not being in the paper or anything but having the pitcher come up to you like last night and say ‘Great job.’”
In addition to Stewart’s debt of gratitude, Buehrle complimented Flowers after his Aug. 29 start, saying the two are completely in sync now after just a few starts together. Buehrle trusted Flowers to call every pitch he threw that night.
“I like the way he handle the pitching staff,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He put himself back on the map not just for this year but next year, too. That’s what we are waiting for. It’s a learning process. When you do that and you work you put yourself in a good position on a big league club. He did that.”
Next year he is targeted to at least be the backup catcher behind A.J. Pierzynski, who is scheduled to make $6 million in the final year of his two-year deal. But while Ramon Castro caught only sporadically as Pierzynski’s backup, Guillen said Flowers will play more than that.
Playing here and there isn’t the best way to become consistent at the plate, but Flowers will work at it. He has shown flashes of success, but entered Tuesday’s game with just one hit over his last 15 at-bats.
He brought a .236 batting average into the game, but it’s not a number he’s going to worry about.
“You now I just wanted to show that I can have quality at-bats offensively but not worrying about the statistics just have those good at-bats,” Flowers said. “There is such a limited amount of time and at-bats. If I hit .400 or .200 it’s all about the quality of at-bats. You can’t control where the ball goes all the time.”
Flowers might be pleased to know that Guillen does see good at-bats.
“He matured as a player,” Guillen said. “I don’t know about the numbers, but I see his swing a lot better. It comes with experience.”
The inspiration might have come in the offseason. When Flowers was obtained in a trade with the Braves after the 2008 season, he was targeted to replace Pierzynski this season. He wasn’t ready, though, and both Pierzynski and Castro were re-signed for this year.
“Now he’s more hungry than he was before,” Guillen said. “Signing A.J. and Castro back maybe opened his eyes to ‘Wait a minute I’m getting behind.’ We’ve been waiting for this kid since the trade for last two years and couldn’t get anything from him. Now we are.”
In return, the pitchers are getting something out of Flowers.
“It’s just about taking the time to understand each one individually and what goes into their personalities,” Flowers said. “Catching Zach Stewart is a lot different than catching Jake Peavy, emotionally and mentally where you have to keep Peavy a little calm and Stewart you have to keep him jacked up. There is a big difference there.
“But other than that it’s educating yourself on the other team and educating your pitcher on situations and let him know that you are prepared for each pitch and each situation. Let him know that you have an idea of what’s going on. I think that’s all they’re looking for.”