CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers has a problem being on time, and the White Sox catcher believes that issue plays a major role in his 18-for-100 slump since April 30.
No, it's not that Flowers arrives at the ballpark late. This timing deals with Flowers' ability to get ready and execute swings against opposing pitchers, as pointed out by hitting coach Todd Steverson. Surprisingly, it was a part of the swing and offensive process Flowers had never really thought about prior to this slump.
"I don't know if you would call that ignorance, or I was very lucky in the previous 28 years of my life," Flowers said. "But I've always gone through things like this, where I get pretty hot for a while, and you get cold and you really don't know what the heck to do to get out of it.
"Hopefully this is something that will maybe be a much better foundation for consistency. Just in simple terms, starting whatever it is I do too late. So, you know I got point A, B, C and D I have to get to, and I'm trying to cram it into a one second period of time instead of a two- or three-second period of time."
Flowers, who entered Friday's contest with two hits in 23 at-bats during June, hit .354 over the season's first month. He has not lost sight of the fact that calling games and getting pitchers deep into contests on a nightly basis serves as his primary responsibility. But Flowers seems encouraged by the timing adjustment made to his swing.
Work has already been done within this particular area in the batting cages under Steverson's guidance and during batting practice. Now Flowers hopes it translates quickly into games.
"I've thought it for a couple of years, that I feel like for me to swing and miss as much as I do, there's something really simple that I'm missing," Flowers said. "Obviously timing is a big part of hitting -- and doing anything basically athletically -- so I'm really just going to get caught up in this and give it a few games, and then we'll reassess from there and see how many pitches I was on time for. I have a feeling if I can figure out how to be on time, I'm going to make some solid contact.
"A lot of times I get stuck in the mechanical aspect. I think [Steverson] really hit home with me that the reality is it's not the mechanics. It's about not being on time."
High pitch counts are goal, not issue, for Sale
CHICAGO -- In Chris Sale's past two starts, the White Sox ace hurler has thrown a respective 115 and 116 pitches. It is the sort of workload that causes some outside consternation after Sale's strained flexor muscle in his left arm cost him five weeks out of action earlier this season.
But that's the sort of workload Sale says he needs in his return to regular work at the top of the White Sox rotation.
"It has been a while since, 'The Incident,' if you will," Sale said after Thursday's seven-inning effort against the Tigers, referring to the injury that sent him to his first career stint on the disabled list. "I'm trying to build arm strength, and that's how you build it.
"I'm not going to go out and build arm strength and get into a rhythm throwing 90 pitches every time out. I want to be out there for that. I need to be that guy to go 115-120 pitches. That's what I'm signed up for."
Factoring into Sale's performance against the Tigers was that he threw an easy, comfortable 116 pitches, without having any big trouble spot. His only run allowed came on a Victor Martinez homer.
Manager Robin Ventura acknowledged that Sale's level of effort would play a role in the decision, adding that Sale had struggled in some starts in which he threw only 90 pitches.
"Last night wasn't one of those," Ventura said of Sale, who has a 1.62 ERA over his past six starts. "He was throwing it free and easy and felt strong the whole time. When it's at that point, it's his game; you can let him have it. But I wasn't sending him back out there for the eighth or ninth."
Garcia improves; White Sox temper optimism
CHICAGO -- Avisail Garcia played catch on the field Thursday and Friday for the first time since he tore the labrum in his left shoulder and sustained an avulsion fracture diving for a fly ball in right at Colorado on April 9.
The progress Garcia has made and the hope for a possible 2014 return he expressed recently does not mean the White Sox have changed his prognosis of being out for the season.
"This is really just the start of a long process for him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Just because he's out here right now, I don't necessarily see him making it back for this year. The prognosis the whole time was he would be back for Spring Training.
"It's a long process, so this is the start of it. Hopefully he can move along and everything goes smoothly, but just because he's out here right now doesn't mean he's necessarily going to be here at the end of the year to play in games."
Garcia had a .267 average with two homers and four RBIs over 30 at-bats this season. His absence certainly plays a role in the White Sox decision-making process as to whether they should treat this team as a playoff contender moving forward.
Third to first
• The White Sox have signed right-hander Henry Rodriguez to a Minor League contract. Rodriguez, 27, will be placed on the Triple-A Charlotte disabled list.
Rodriguez has made 150 relief appearances over six Major League seasons with Oakland (2009-10), Washington ('11-13), the Cubs ('13) and Miami ('14), posting a 4.31 ERA with 11 saves and 151 strikeouts.
• Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who pitched arguably the most historic inning of relief in White Sox history during Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS at Fenway Park, will be one of the guests during a private panel discussion and luncheon Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field called, "White Sox Baseball: A History of Cuban Stars."
Minnie Minoso, as well as current players Jose Abreu, Adrian Nieto, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo, will share their views and perspectives on the impact of Cuban players on baseball.
• When Ventura most recently saw Dale Sveum in May, Sveum was serving as the Royals' third-base coach. The White Sox manager hasn't watched the Royals since his White Sox teammate from 1992 became hitting coach, but he seemed confident that Sveum would do a good job.
"I know he's smart and he's good," Ventura said. "We haven't seen him since he's been doing it. But Dale's been around the game. He knows what he's doing; he knows a lot of baseball."
• The popular Mullet Night promotion took place Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. Ventura said that he could not remember ever featuring the interesting hairstyle and that it was too late for him to grown one now.
• Comedian/Actor Kevin Hart threw out one of the ceremonial fist pitches prior to Friday night's series opener against the Royals.