Catcher Tyler Flowers, acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the mid-December deal for veteran pitcher Javier Vasquez, was a busy man on and off the field once his regular season ended with the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
After returning home after the Carolina League playoffs in mid-September, he had just three weeks before his early-October wedding. And once he and his bride were pronounced man and wife, he was off to Arizona to catch for the Mesa Solar Sox.
The lack of a chance to relax and unwind didn't hurt Flowers at the plate, as he batted .387 in the AFL, leading the league with 12 homers and a .973 slugging percentage, while playing errorless ball behind the plate.
The 2008 season had marked the first campaign in which Flowers had caught virtually full-time, after seeing most of his time at first base in 2006 and 2007 due to a sore knee.
The 6-foot-4 220-pounder hit .288 with 17 homers and 88 RBIs for the Southern Division-champion Pelicans, who fell to the Potomac Nationals in the Mills Cup Finals, ranking fourth in the league in RBIs, second in on-base percentage (.427) and fifth in slugging (.494).
Just a few weeks after returning home from Arizona, where his Solar Sox lost in the championship game, Flowers was still a busy guy, as he was traded in the offseason and finally took that delayed honeymoon to Aruba. But he still was more than willing to find the time to sit down and talk at length with MLB.com about life in baseball and away from it.
MLB.com: What is the coolest thing you've ever done?
TF: My brother and my dad have gotten into go-kart racing where they go in excess of 100 mph. They started two years ago and I went last offseason. It's unreal, exciting and scary and nerve-wracking and one of the most intimidating things I've done. We're all car lovers and 'the need for speed'-type people. My friends and I and our dads built our go-karts when we were growing up, where we'd go to local schools and race around against each other.
MLB.com: What do you think you'd be doing now if you weren't playing baseball?
TF: I guess I'd be done with school by now, I think. I think I could have made it through school in four years. I always wanted to be a lawyer, but the other side of that is I wasn't much for school, I didn't enjoy it, so that got rid of that thought early in my college days (at Chipola Junior College). I feel like I'd be good at sales, whatever aspect that would have carried me into. Growing up we'd do the fundraisers, selling Krispy Kreme donuts on the corner, and I'd always sell the most.
MLB.com: Do you have other hobbies or creative outlets aside from baseball?
TF: Like most baseball players, video games are important. But my wife hates it so I haven't played video games in awhile. You have roommates everywhere and you get to pick your roommate so you pick people who like the same games. The most popular game was Halo, but now it's Rock Band. I play guitar and drums and pretty much anything. I'm pretty good.
MLB.com: Everyone has a "hidden talent." What's yours?
TF: I am a pretty good artist. I enjoy drawing a lot. Nothing in particular, I'll more or less pick something out in the room or something from my mind, maybe a logo. I've always enjoyed that since I was a kid. I have a hard time drawing people though. It's the one thing I can't do.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors do you find to be the biggest challenge and why?
TF: The biggest challenge is definitely going to the field every day with the mindset to continuously work hard everyday. You realize it's a long season and I think the hardest part is staying motivated everyday when obviously that's what you're supposed to do.
MLB.com: Which aspect of life in the Minors has surprised you the most, in comparison to what you might have imagined before you turned pro?
TF: One would be the road trips and from what I understand (having been in the Sally and Carolina Leagues) I haven't encountered the bad ones yet. Eight hours on a bus isn't what I imagined, but I hear about other teams who have like 15 hours and that's unreal. And on top of that, I don't know what I thought it would be like, but you have like zero food options. You can order pizza or maybe there's a Waffle House. And that's another challenge, day in and day out and trying to figure out what to eat. It's hard for larger people to try and stay healthy. Skinny guys can eat McDonalds everyday and not worry about it but I try to stay on top of my diet and it's not that easy.
MLB.com: Which coach/manager have you had that you think should be in the big leagues?
TF: (Myrtle Beach manager) Rocket Wheeler. He's on you all the time and I think that's what I was raised with, with my dad being my coach most of my life. I think it's important to have a coach like him who's always in it. Plus he's a great guy. He genuinely cares about his players and I think he would be a great manager at the Major League level.
MLB.com: On your most recent club, what was your favorite thing about playing there? And is there anything you would change?
TF: At Myrtle Beach we had good fans and consistent fans. We had 10 diehard fans and by diehard, I mean if we got back from a road trip at four in the morning they'd be there with tables of snacks and coffee and juice. It was unreal. I love baseball and I wouldn't be up at four in the morning to welcome home a team. They were at every game. And me, Travis Jones and Jay Chapman and later Jason Heyward got a penthouse on the beach the second half of the season. Chapman plays the guitar and sings and we had a balcony on the beach and that was nice to hang out there.
MLB.com: In your career, what has been your favorite road trip and why?
TF: Charleston, S.C., as a road trip because the downtown area is really nice, plus the stadium is really nice, the best in the Sally League. It's almost like a big league atmosphere with big locker rooms, stereo speakers and the tunnel underneath the stadium. But Charleston is also one of my least favorites because of the fans. Once during the second inning of a Thirsty Thursday game when I was playing first base, there was a pop fly that I missed so I was getting harassed for that for the next four innings. Then a ground ball hot shot went right between my legs and it got to the point where I didn't even want to go back out there.