Tyler Flowers entered Friday with a .268 on-base percentage while slugging .341. Those aren’t all-star numbers but manager Robin Ventura sounded like he’d be fine with Flowers behind the plate next season, albeit for reasons beyond his bat.
“You’re comfortable with the way he calls a game. I think he’s done much better catching a game, calling a game, than he has in the past,” Ventura said. “I think he’s elevated that to where he’s getting some pitchers through some games.”
As Ventura noted, there are positives to Flowers’ game beyond offense.
“For us, we know that Tyler, the first thing you want to see is the way he calls a game, the way he goes through a game, that impact of getting a pitcher through the game. That’s a big deal,” Ventura said. “I think that’s what you really focus on. The offensive stuff you can always work on and get better at.
“There will be years where he’ll have a better offensive season than others. But being able to handle a staff, calling games, is the No. 1 priority for a catcher.”
For his part, Flowers would probably like to raise his game offensively.
“I bet they want everybody to hit a little better. With that said, I think a .220 hitter can be a big league catcher without a doubt,” Flowers said. “There are so many other more important aspects of the position than batting average on the back of the cards. Getting bunts down, getting guys over. For the most part, I’ve done pretty well with that.
“That’s what you’ve got to do when you struggle to hit for a higher average. You have to make sure you do all the little things correctly. Show the right approach in situations. The real thing is behind the plate, working with the staff, getting these guys through ballgames, pitch-framing.”
Flowers said “I definitely hang my hat” calling games “especially this year.”
“It’s big. I think it changes games. It changes outcomes of games. It definitely changes outcomes of at-bats,” Flowers said. “It changes what pitches you throw in certain at-bats and certain counts. At the end of the year, I’ll be able to look back at a number and know that I had a huge impact on that, with one pitch here and one pitch there. You take a 1-1 pitch and make it 1-2 instead of 2-1, you have endless pitches you can throw. But if you are 2-1, you have a couple of choices.
“I think it’s huge. Most of our pitchers recognize that too and I think that’s why they continue to support me.”
Including Chris Sale, the most important one.
“It doesn’t hurt. He usually pays my clubhouse dues so I like that too. I recognize that he’s got to be at least a factor in me being here two years and again this year and hopefully again next year,” Flowers said. “We have a great relationship and he fully trusts me every start out there. It’s a lot of fun for me when he does well and it’s a little tough to sleep if he doesn’t well. I know a lot of it is on my shoulders too.
“I like him on my side for sure.”