White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers knows there will be points this season when the singles that are coming in bunches will be harder to find.
But Flowers, who entered the season with his share of doubters, hopes his surprising start is laying the groundwork for him to overcome such slumps quicker.
Flowers entered May hitting .354 with 11 runs scored and nine RBIs. He has nine multi-hit games, matching his total for 2013. Except for September, when he played one game, he didn't hit above .231 in any month.
"It's nice to get off on the right foot and have a foundation under you where, when I do scuffle – and it will happen – hopefully it won't hurt me as much ,and I'll try to bounce back as quick as I can," Flowers said. "Anytime you can collect a fair number of hits in the first month of the season, that really is going to help you stay confident, stay up, whenever that tough stretch does come."
Flowers hit .195 last season, lost his starting job to rookie Josh Phegley and ended his season early to have minor shoulder surgery.
The Sox could have found a replacement on the free-agent or trade markets, but instead re-signed Flowers to a 1-year, $950,000 deal and named him the starting catcher in spring training.
They cited his ability to work well with pitchers and said his offensive struggles might not have been as glaring if other players had done their jobs properly.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Monday that Flowers is a different player than he was last year – slimmer, in better shape and with a far better approach at the plate. Flowers, who said he lost 12 pounds, agrees.
"I feel like a different player, the whole works – catching, throwing, my stance, the swing, all of that," Flowers said. "It feels good to be more productive. I think I showed that to the White Sox this spring; otherwise, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be where I am right now. I guess other people see it too."
Flowers, who hit 10 home runs last season, has 26 singles, among the leaders in baseball, to go with two doubles and one homer. He hopes a little power will eventually come, but he will take the hits any way he can get them.
He has provided a nice boost at the bottom of the lineup for manager Robin Ventura, who said Flowers' start is big for his confidence.
"After the year he had last year, more of the pressure that was there because he was coming in for A.J. [Pierzynski], but now he's just on his own," Ventura said. "He always called a good game. Now you bring an offensive side to it where he's really contributing, it gives you confidence."
Flowers said communication with new hitting coach Todd Steverson has helped him settle in to his new approach.
"He speaks a different language from other instructors we've had in the past," Flowers said. "It seems like that's relating to a lot of us a little bit more. I don't feel like he's got any magic that he's throwing at us. He's just consistent and speaking our language."
It helps that Flowers' shoulder feels as good as it ever has. He has thrown out 7 of 20 attempted base-stealers.
"I have more life, more carry on the ball right now," he said. "There are still a couple days here and there where I try as hard as I can, and it doesn't seem to come out the same as it did the day before, but everybody experiences that."