Braves veteran catcher Tyler Flowers. (AJC file photo)

Braves’ Tyler Flowers discusses safety protocols, staying in touch with teammates during uncertain period

Braves catcher and player representative Tyler Flowers spoke with reporters Friday for the first time since Major League Baseball’s return next month became official.

Here’s some of what Flowers said about negotiations with the league, conversations with teammates and the health challenges of a season.

On safety throughout the past few months and moving forward:

“I definitely plan on taking (the health guidelines) as serious as they direct us to. They’re smarter than I am so whatever ideas they have are better than my own. That’s my intention, especially with little kids at home, my wife at home. Being one to deal with it during this pandemic too, it’s really hard to get babysitters right now. God forbid, I don’t want her to get it from me. So I plan on taking it very seriously. I think a lot of guys, if they want to complete this season with what we have in front of us, I think we should all take it seriously. That’s going to give us the best chance to make it through the season, the postseason and hopefully complete the whole thing. … I think a lot of people are really anxious to see something on TV besides NASCAR. But I like NASCAR too.”

On the MLB and MLBPA negotiations and seeing how it played out publicly:

“I just view it as part of the game, part of the business. There are two sides to it. I think both sides have different things they’re trying to achieve. I think both sides would potentially, at this point, do some things differently to hopefully get something done sooner than we ended up getting done. But ultimately we ended up with the season, and I think a lot of people weren’t that optimistic from the get-go about even having a season. So if you look at it from that regard, you can call it somewhat a success. It definitely wasn’t streamline. It was a little stressful. A lot of conversations that a lot of times ended up going nowhere. But ultimately, I guess the original agreement is where we ended up at and thank goodness we’re still going to hopefully get something in this year, have some fun, play a little ball and give people something to watch.”

On staying in touch with teammates:

“We did Zoom, a little WebEx toward the end, some Facetime here and there. I ended up having it broken down into three different groups of guys. I’m not as tech savvy as the rest of the world, so even group texts – I don’t know how to do more than eight people on my Sprint awesome phone service – so at times I had to divvy it up to teammates to inform guys about a conference call we were going to have. All in all, probably twice a week I’d say. Just touching base, informing them about anything new and developing. Just answering questions any guys may have had.”

On teammates’ eagerness to return:

“Everybody was really pushing to try to get something done as soon as possible. Especially our team, young guys who were carrying it over from spring training, trying to stay ready. Older guys who want to get out there and play as many games as possible to hopefully continue their careers after this season. It was a real mix but all said the same thing. They wanted to get out there and start playing.”

On catching pitchers during the break:

“I have not (caught any pitchers). I’ve had a couple invitations to catch a few of them but five kids, no babysitter, I’ve never felt comfortable enough to commit to anything. I didn’t want three pitchers sitting at some local high school waiting on me when I end up not being able to make it. So I haven’t seen a lot of our guys first hand. I’ve talked to a number of them about it. The ones I’ve talked to, they’re feeling great and ready to rock. They’re anxious to get playing again too. But firsthand wise, I haven’t had much of an opportunity because of the situation we’re in and the situation in the world and state.”

On following protocols and limiting physical interactions during exciting moments:

“There’s a few (guidelines) that stand out in my mind that we can handle just fine. I’d be lying to you if I said I knew every single one of them. So forgive me, I’ve taken a breather on reading all these pages since we actually got something done. I kind of cashed out the last few days so I haven’t even read through the entire thing yet. But I’m assuming, having spoken with (trainer) George (Poulis) and some of the guys, they’re on top of it and they have bullet points for us as far as specific protocols they’re going to implement on us. Hopefully they have some easier ways for us to stay on top of them. Ultimately, it’s going to help us. The more we follow them, the more likely we’ll be able to complete this season and postseason.

“The high-fiving, hugging and stuff; this is going to be tough for Freddie, especially, with all the hugging he does with all the homers he hits. We’ll figure it out. I think the emotional high is still going to be there in those situations. I’m sure early on George and his staff will have to throw some reminders at us because yeah, it’s an emotional game, especially when there’s a walk-off homer or anything of that nature. Your emotions take over and sometimes you do things you really don’t think about. I think that’s going to put a little more pressure on them to make sure we all remember the situation we’re in and what we’re expecting to do if we want to complete this season. I’m sure we’re going to have numerous conversations about it once we get rolling again. Hopefully there will be some unique ideas to help us remember it in the midst of those emotions.”

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