Former White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers was back in familiar territory Friday when he made his first trip to U.S. Cellular Field as a member of the visiting team.
Flowers, who spent seven years with the Sox, admitted it was strange to make his way to the opposite clubhouse and jokingly hoped he remembered to stick with his Braves’ teammates throughout the weekend.
“I’ve never been over here (on the visitors’ side), being in the other dugout – hopefully I don’t mess up and go the wrong way,” said Flowers, whose RBI single in the 11th inning Thursday lifted the Braves to a 4-3 win over the Cubs. “But I think it’ll be a fun experience to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while – a lot of guys I’ve been talking to but haven’t seen them face to face.”
Perhaps the biggest change for Flowers was facing Sox ace Chris Sale for the first time. Flowers said he was asked Thursday if he felt his familiarity with baseball’s wins leader gave him an advantage.
“(It’s) a completely different perspective looking to your left trying to hit something versus looking straight at him knowing what’s coming and trying to catch it,” Flowers said.
“How do you hit him? It’s like saying how do you hit (Dodgers’ ace Clayton) Kershaw — you just hope he makes a mistake and you hope you happen to be looking and ready for it, hopefully you hit it where someone’s not.”
Sox third baseman Todd Frazier said Friday he sees a bit of an advantage being the No. 2 seed in next week’s Home Run Derby. Frazier, who won last year’s event, starts off against Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez and is seeded only behind the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo.
“I think the bottom line is if you go second you have a little advantage and I’ll be going second through the whole thing unless Trumbo loses in one of the rounds,” Frazier said. “You know how many home runs you need to hit, whether it’s 10 or 15, whatever it is, you have an opportunity to know whether you need to speed it up a little bit and start cranking at some point.
Sterling native and Minooka Community High School grad Mike Foltynewicz will start for the Braves in Sunday’s series finale. Foltynewicz is 2-3 with a 4.29 ERA and will be looking for his first victory since May 30. Foltynewicz spent time on the disabled list last month with bone chips in his elbow. In his last outing, Foltynewicz gave up four earned runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Despite the 24-year-old’s struggles this season, Flowers sees a lot of upside.
“(He’s got a) crazy arm – God-given arm,” Flowers said. “He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen. He’s a guy where it’s a work in progress, working with his mentality, trying to get him to grow in that area to allow his talent to come out and work for him.
“The sky is the limit.”
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