It was not one of those silent giggles that is the precursor to a boastful laugh that shakes the building. Instead, one could just tell that the Chicago White Sox catcher wanted to blurt out “you are kidding, right?”
The question that was asked to Flowers at Soxfest this past weekend was if he was “going to go with or without glasses this season.” A question that appears to most people as a harmless inquiry that means nothing. To White Sox fans though, they know the difference between the Flowers with eyewear at the plate and the one without.
Since 2009 Flowers has been touted as the catcher of the future for the White Sox. For four seasons he continued to attempt to perfect his craft while being the understudy for one of the best catchers in franchise history.
When fan favorite AJ Pierzynski’s contract was up at the end of the 2012 season, Chicago’s brass decided that it was finally time to give Flowers the chance to prove that it was his time to shine.
Flowers’ audition could not have gone any worse.
While he was praised for his ability to handle a pitching staff in 2013, Flowers’ bat was silent most of the year as he hit a measly .195. During a season where every single flaw was amplified, Flowers’ had a number of them for skeptics to point out.
He fixed his stance. He moved his feet further apart. He moved his feet closer together. He lowered his hands then proceeded to raise them again.
Not a single mechanical tinker translated to more success for Flowers on the diamond. The same could be said for the first half of 2014.
With the White Sox in a full-scale rebuild, Flowers’ struggles to begin 2014 resulted in backup Adrian Nieto getting a shot to start over the incumbent.
People started to groan every time Flowers stepped up to the plate, just like they did when it was announced that he would be returning to Chicago only a few months prior.
As the first half came to a close, Flowers found himself with a .218/.273/.304 slash and 5 homers through 78 games. It appeared as if there was no hope for the now veteran backstop. The White Sox would most likely just ride out the rest of his contract and part ways for good at the end of the year. Then, something so simple yet so revolutionary happened; Flowers got his eyes checked.
Heading into the second half the only tweak Flowers took up was getting accustomed to hit while wearing sports glasses. Saying that he was able to pick up pitches better than he ever could before, the now confident catcher was in the zone.
Flowers finished with a .280/.337/.553 slash in the second half while also doubling his home run total from the first half in 33 less games.
There was no denying how much enjoyment Flowers was having on a daily basis. While he never appeared gloomy during his lengthy tenure with the White Sox up to that point in time, it was clear that there was an extra pep in his step. He truly was locked in.
Heading into 2015, expectations are even higher for the 29-year-old. In less than a year he was able to go from bust to potential catcher of the future again. He was always valuable for his ability to call a game from behind the plate, but now his bat made him a force in the lineup as well.
Six years after coming over from the Atlanta Braves, Flowers is displaying what made him such a highly touted prospect in two farm systems.
Going back to that question asked by the fan, Flowers responded with a sarcastic “obviously going with the glasses.”
Flowers believes that he can see an even brighter future ahead that has him in Chicago for the long haul. If his success from the end of last season carries over into 2015, he could also be seeing a hefty raise come next winter.