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More on the injuries, moves

So Manny Acta confirmed that Jesus Flores will be the starting catcher and Wil Nieves the backup beginning tomorrow. I would guess that would mean Flores plays roughly five games to Nieves's two, or something roughly equivalent to that.

Acta said that Flores's .153 batting average at Class AAA Columbus doesn't concern him.

"He's been catching well," Acta said. "His numbers offensively, they're not there, obviously, but it's no big deal. He's been working hard. He's going to come up here, and he'll be fine."

"I'm fine with him," Acta said. "I like what I saw last year. We know what we're doing here. This guy is part of our future and we're going to play him and continue to develop him."

Paul Lo Duca was clearly frustrated by his situation. He had a splint on his wrist, one he'll have to wear for a couple of weeks. He also thinks he just finished off the bone last night because it had been bothering him the more he swung.

"I've swung the bat over a million times in my lifetime, and I've never broken anything," Lo Duca said. "Obviously there was something there before, and I just topped it off. It was bothering me. It got better when I had time off, but the more I started taking more swings, it started bothering me."

Keep in mind four-to-six weeks is how long it'll take the bone to heal to the point where he can resume baseball activities. He'll likely need a bit more time in a rehab assignment.

Elijah Dukes will serve as the fourth outfielder for now, which is what he was scheduled to be before Wily Mo Pena went down with an injury in spring training. "He's going to come in and be part of the team and get some playing time here and there," Acta said. "Nothing has changed."

Also: You want to hear about a horrible job of reporting? I have sat in the press box many nights and thought, "You know, this would be a good time to hit Belliard." Acta would pinch-hit someone else, and then the game would play out, and I'd get distracted by other situations, and I never pulled the trigger on the "What's up with Belliard?" question.

Well, blame me (and, of course, my reporting cohorts, though I'm only here to point the finger at me). Belliard had an infection in his fingernails that cost him a few days, and when he was getting over that, he had a back problem. The Nationals obviously didn't announce the problems because they wanted the opposition to think Acta had Belliard as a card to play. But a few of those days, he didn't.

My apologies. A horrendous reporting job.

Enjoy the game. And you want a juicy preview of something I'll post in the morning? How about Tim Tolman explaining his thoughts over the past few weeks?

By Barry Svrluga  |  May 8, 2008; 8:27 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Lo Duca, Estrada both on DL tomorrow; Flores up, Dukes back
Next: Tolman explains thought process


Go Steamboat Willie!!!
2-0 Nats Top 3 1 out, Guzzie Up

Posted by: CN | May 8, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Manny has been playing the wrong Wily all season. Way to go Willie Harris!

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 8, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow... Who would've thought by the beginning of May that Willie Harris would have more than 2x as many extra-base hits than the Weapon. And more homers...

Sadly it is only 5 xbh for Harris with 1 homer to the Weapons 2 doubles.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 8, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Ya know... haven't we heard Tim Tolman's thoughts regarding this situation before? And nothing changed...

Also blame us for overlooking Belliard. I admit that it's crossed my mind a few times while watching the game (whatever happened to Belliard?) and then it slipped my mind before I could pose the question here. Sorry to hear that he's been hurt all this time.

Posted by: JennX | May 8, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

RE: Tolman

Unless he is resigning/moving to first base he should really be trying to excuse what he has done.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | May 8, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

It's the Tim Tolman nickname game. Vote for your favorite:

1. The Windmill
2. Dead Meat
3. See No Evil
4. Corey Hart
5. Rally Killer

Posted by: MKevin | May 8, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

No sweat Barry, none of us caught it either, and lord knows we are capable of finding numerous needles in the haystack for you to look for on our behalf.

ABM, you will be fine here. Welcome. For the most part we are reasonable, if a bit snarky and/or quirky du temps en temps. (See?)

I sense a new dynamic tonight. Zim and Slick. Jesus and Wil. I predict AK plays the 5 hitter role here and going forward.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 8, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow! A big hit in a big spot by someone who's supposed to! Kinda nice.

Posted by: MKevin | May 8, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Yay, I called that. Not that it was all that unpredictable. Big inning anyone?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 8, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Elwood the rallyzzzzzz | May 8, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

OK so Manny said tonight in his interview with Charlie that Flores is going to start most of the time. So it makes me wonder, why was he in AAA and why did we sign LoDuca in the first place?

Remember, the rationale was that it would hinder Flores's development to either sit on the bench or play overmatched in the bigs. So following the plan, Jesus goes down.

But if that was the rationale, then he should stay down, and Nieves should play, and we should sign Humberto Cota or whatever other street guy is out there. After all, the priority is the future, as Manny said, one breakthrough start from Lannan is worth 4-5 losses.

But if Jesus CAN develop just as well here in the bigs, then why did we sign Estrada and LoDuca?

Because we're actually trying to win now and prioritizing that over developing our future catcher? Or we're actually risking slowing Jesus's development now by bringing him up?

Maybe there's nothing to it, maybe they just decided that Jesus is more ready than they thought 3 months ago, but maybe this is erratic behavior indicating that our leadership isn't thinking things through or isn't all on the same page.

PS I'll save y'all the trouble:
"SoCH, why are you so critical?"
"God you're so full of hate"
"You should stop posting, you dummy ignorant sl*t"

Posted by: Steven on Capitol Hill | May 8, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: DkNatsFan | May 8, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

That Guzzie just turned. And we just got out of the 6th. Good job Lannan.

Posted by: DkNatsFan | May 8, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

AK hater reporting for abuse here.

Nice clutch hit there to drive in two. Bet he can't do it again. :)

Nice job by Lannan getting out of that jam.

Posted by: Litany of Disappointments | May 8, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Steven, you answered your own question, and correctly. They thought Flores was AA material this year. He proved he was AAA material and their third best catcher. Hence, when the first two go down, he comes up. They didn't want him as a backup in the majors and didn't think he was ready for the lead role. But now he has been thrust into it. Let's hope he keeps it. Flores/Nieves is the desired combo in my book.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 8, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Great post, SoCH. The team decided that the best thing for Flores's long-term development was for him to play in the minors this year. So that's where he should stay, and learn what the Nats already decided he needs to learn. My biggest concern about The Plan is the guy who is at the helm.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 8, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Blue Jays in desperate need of SS.... PLEASE TRADE GUZMAN or FLOP while you can!!!! We will take the prospects.

Posted by: NatsFan | May 8, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Sweet catch by Mackowiak. SoCH - It seems that you do like to argue/criticize just for the heck of it. Lo Duca got hurt. Would you really sign Cota when you can bring up Flores for 4 to 6 weeks of playing? Come on now.

Posted by: DkNatsFan | May 8, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Now this looks like a baseball team. Nice grab Mack.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 8, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Mack!

Posted by: BSG | May 8, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

OK - fickle fan that I am - but I now like Mackowiak.

Posted by: DkNatsFan | May 8, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Harris and Mackowiak go yard? YESSSSS!

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 8, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

jays not as desperate as you think. both injuries turned out not to be too serious. it's possible neither will go on the DL.

Posted by: 231 | May 8, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Would you really sign Cota when you can bring up Flores for 4 to 6 weeks of playing? Come on now.

If it's going to delay his development by throwing him in the deep end, absolutely. At least, that's what Manny and Kasten say the plan is.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

It's nice to see the bench players getting it done tonight. It's also nice to see Kearns coming through too.

Posted by: BSG | May 8, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

How great to get such hitting out of our no-hit reserves tonight.

Barry, not to brag, and not sure if you saw it, but I did ask the question about Belliard in your chat a few weeks ago. It seemed like he fell off the face of the earth after FLop took the 2B job back. Nice to now know the reason why. Hope he gets his hitting eye back.

Posted by: Section 222 | May 8, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Wily Mo could hammer toss either Mackowiak or Harris 50 yards. Yet, through 25 games, Harris and Mack both have outhomered WMP.

To see them both go yard in the same game has to be some sign of the apocalypse. Next your going to tell me Cliff Lee is the best pitcher in baseball....wait a second....

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | May 8, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

No sweat Barry, none of us caught it either,

Posted by: Bob L. Head | May 8, 2008 9:42 PM

So what's the deal with Belliard? Someone said he phoned it in the other day. I seriously hope his benching isn't getting to his head now. He's one of my favorite players. He made a couple slip-ups earlier but I don't think they warrant this long without play time.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 7, 2008 8:26 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Steven: Why are you so full of hate? They didn't sign PLod and Johnny knowing they would get hurt! God, you are so critical.

Posted by: Ira | May 8, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse has Manny saying Milledge is safe in CF. Maybe you all knew that but was news to me. Haven't seen anything so far that shows me his is a big league CF.

Great to see AK and Zim starting to hit.

Zim is hitting .278 w/ 3 HR and 8 RBI his last 10 games. That's a 48HR, 130RBI pace. That will make up for some lost time.

Lannan was outstanding again, this one should be a win!

Posted by: Avar | May 8, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

FYI, Mackowiak's catch in left field was the #1 "Web Gem" on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight." Nice going, Mack!

Posted by: BSG | May 8, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

8-3 - wow! Better fielding, bats off the bench hitting well, other bats hitting well, pretty well-pitched game - a pleasure to listen to.

Posted by: samantha7 | May 8, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Flores+ Nieves = $800,000.00
Plod + Ponch = 6,500,000.00

Which one fits the Plan?
Stan can you do the math?

Posted by: junkbucket | May 8, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

LoDuca and Estrada = $6.25 mil this season

I'd suggest using correct info to summarily criticize.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | May 8, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE Tolman.
I LOVE LoDuca.
I love everyone.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 8, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

LDC- Wow you saved Stan some Algebra the extra 250,000 will pay their medical cost so actually your numbers will be much lower than my number when its all added up.

Posted by: junkbucket | May 8, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Barry--can you print this press release verbatim as well?

New Poll Finds 95% of Fans in President's Section Say "It's Worth Every Dime"

Washington--A new poll by Quinnipiac College finds that 95% of fans who paid $300 for seats in the President's seats agreed with the statement that the seats were "worth every dime."

"I can't imagine why anyone would settle for less," one fan said.

Posted by: Nats PR department | May 8, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

You know what's funny? I saw Belliard at the Dream Gala Saturday night and mentioned, "Hey, you haven't been getting much playing time lately!" and he shrugged and smiled and just said, "Yeah, the team's playing good so it's all good." I thought it was odd, but just kinda blew it off. Guess we know now!

Posted by: misschatter | May 8, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

"Great post, SoCH. The team decided that the best thing for Flores's long-term development was for him to play in the minors this year. So that's where he should stay, and learn what the Nats already decided he needs to learn. My biggest concern about The Plan is the guy who is at the helm."

In any plan there has to be room for flexibility in case things go in a way that wasn't expected. One or the other of LoDuca and Estrada going down to injury would be a reasonable possibility, both of them going down simultaneously is beyond the normal expectation. When that happens, you adjust accordingly, and Flores comes up to play every day on the big team. That doesn't mean there was anything wrong with your original plan, or the people doing the planning.

Unless of course you happen to be a hater looking for any excuse to rip the FO, in which case it's a field day. But try not to shoot your whole wad of bile on this one, guys. It's a long season after all.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | May 8, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

That's the way to get it done.

I heard Charlie's interview with Manny and he was downright proud of hiding the Belliard thing.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 8, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Enjoy the win folks. It was nice to see them seal the deal in late innings, so as to not make Manny run for the seltzer. Welcome Home

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | May 8, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

"I heard Charlie's interview with Manny and he was downright proud of hiding the Belliard thing."

I don't know that it's all that much of an accomplishment hiding it from the Post, with them playing shorthanded and all. One lame duck beat reporter, a columnist spending all his time looking up ticket prices in other MLB parks. How hard could it have been to pull the wool over their eyes anyway?

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | May 8, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Whatever, dude. What "bile" in my post are you talking about? I just stated my opinion. Indeed, I'm not a "hater," but you happen to be wrong on this, and the front office is acting confused. Teams often have a plan that they actually stick to as far as player development is concerned. The team has made clear that winning this season is not a priority over development (Manny has said this explicitly). So if the team decides that playing in the minors every day is best for Flores's long-term development, that doesn't change just because guys in DC get injured. Bad move.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | May 8, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

So I guess Big Mack can keep his job a little longer...

And Zimmie going 3-for-5 ain't bad either... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

SoCH -- I've asked that question all season: Why is Flores not our starting catcher in the bigs? If he's a pro-ball level catcher at 23 (which he demonstrated aptly last year), he's a pro-ball level catcher. Has he got stuff to learn? Yes. So does our CF, Milledge. So why not have them up here and playing like a team and getting to know each other and the competition?

And the best reason I can come up with is that the pitchers who are going to come from the Nats farm system and win us a World Series [sic] are in AA and AAA right now, and that's where Flores can work with them to become a true battery and also get five ABs a day, six or more days a week.

But if he comes up to the bigs and has a hitting slump, is that any worse than Schneider's 2007 numbers? Or even Nick Johnson? Or Kearns (before tonight), or Zimmerman's "notoriously slow start"? Is the only difference the fact that everyone has confidence that Johnson will recover and return to form, but we wouldn't have the same confidence with Flores? And I wonder what Flores thinks about all this. Discounting for the obvious preference to be in the big show, I wonder where he thinks he should really be.

Sorry to agree with you without calling you any names, there's just not a lot of vitriol in here on days when the Nats win. ;)

Posted by: i hate walks | May 9, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

"So if the team decides that playing in the minors every day is best for Flores's long-term development, that doesn't change just because guys in DC get injured. Bad move."

As I recall it, the thought was that playing every day [note: league level not specified] was the 2008 plan for Flores. The situation makes it so he's needed on the front lines, so here he comes. Hopefully he can learn something from Tolman and not make any dumb calls.

Maybe the FO knows there are better hitting coaches in AA and AAA and wanted Flores to stay in that environment.

I'm now looking for any reason why it might make sense that he was in the minors. But wasn't he on our opening day roster? What did he really miss? A crappy April? Some spouting off by PLoD? Dimitri Young bobblehead day? C'mon.

Welcome back, #3.

Posted by: i hate walks | May 9, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

lots of questioning of the there anyone out there who doesnt think this is the right move right now? what else would you do?? did you think flores was ready to compete at the major league level all year? no? me either, so they got the best place holder(s) they could. now they are hurt, so they hafta speed it up. it happens. nieves is a good back up and will teach flores a lot i think, really good for his development. all the plans in the world can handle both catchers goin down to the DL the same day and i think this move is perfect. so bravo bowden kasten manny and whoever else, perfect response to an unforseeable problem.

Posted by: love | May 9, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

cant handle sorry, this humidity is wrecking havoc on my ancient laptop

Posted by: love | May 9, 2008 1:46 AM | Report abuse

ps i love having this blog to myself late at night, just take it all in and reflect. it helps keep me tempered i think, other wise i would be yelling at steven (noses up) or someone else i disagree with. sorry to pick on steven but he basically begs for it and its the thing to do these days.

Posted by: love | May 9, 2008 1:49 AM | Report abuse

potomac nationals great luke montz would be a great choice to get called to AAA he is tearin it up, as we read, at harrisburg. i would love to see some of the pnats i saw 2 3 years ago get to the majors grinding it out.

Posted by: love | May 9, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

i think being rushed to the majors is far more detrimental to pitchers than position players. its recoverable for position players the way it might not be for pitchers who have fragile psyches (and bodies if JP and shwan hill are any measure) if its not time for jesus, he can still get over it and reach his max potential. but i think maybe he can shine

Posted by: love | May 9, 2008 2:12 AM | Report abuse

it is my fear that the supply of supercilious bile is inexhaustible, not only from the four or five firehoses-worth we have here but in general...

but aside from that, though we could have swept,'stros beat us in the series fair and square by playing better baseball. a couple of roughly .500 teams going at it, though they have much more upside potential this year than we do.

given that our ownership has not been in place two full years, and our farm system was a barren joke after MLB spent years trying to "contract" us out of business or dangling us with ersatz leadership, i think it is unrealistic to expect us to be able to contend before 2010.

of course washington fans complain we're not going to be in the playoffs this year, being notorious front-runners like most political animals who were not "disciplined by the harsh and bitter peace" of being texas liberals, where you vote right whether you win or not so that, once every 15-20 years, you can take advantage and get somewhere.

one of the best history jokes ever is, "rome wasn't sacked in a day." neither will be the institutional haplessness of the expos/nats, solely reparable by steady, remorseless application of talent and planning which it seems we have a fair chance of receiving...

Posted by: natty bumppo | May 9, 2008 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Based on last year, I didn't grasp why Flores needed to spend a year in the minors. He threw well, needed some work on passed balls, and offensively was identical to Schneider (a low bar for sure) but defense is usually the priority for catchers. And he seemed to get a bunch of late game clutch hits.

I know that referencing Boswell is dangerous in this blog, but he did write last winter that it was a myth that LoDuca would be a big offensive upgrade. His injuries prevented a true test, but so far there are zero grounds for optimism.

I bash JimBo for both LoDuca and Estrada - crappy catching defense loses games in the National League. I think they compromised "The Plan" in order to boost the offense short term, but it backfired.

So I'm happy that Flores is back, hope he hits .260, but even if he doesn't he's already more valuable than the over the hill "offensive" stopgap catchers now on the DL.

Posted by: Geezer | May 9, 2008 6:16 AM | Report abuse

I agreed with sending Flores to the minors to be the everyday catcher, not just so he could work with future pitchers, but also so if he went through a skid - like the one he's in now - he'd be more protected to learn how to work out of it.

Really, raise your hand if you think we have been the most understanding crowd around here.

And on that topic, it's May 9, and Zimmerman is now batting .252.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | May 9, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Understanding crowd? Oh yea, we understand .. we understand reeeeeeeeel wellllll.

[pitchfork handle knocks on floorboards a couple of times for emphasis]

Posted by: i hate walks | May 9, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Gee, Manny can manage after all, eh?

Steven, etc has a point. Why bring Flores up now when they could make Nieves the starter and "someone else" the back." Hoever, doing what they did only marginlly changes The Plan. Those of you who showed your impatience yesterday, should applaud this more, as Flores will/shoud keep the team at its "a little bit better than last year" level. That being said let us all have patience with Flores. It may be a while for him to overcome his .150 AAA average.

Posted by: Sec 204 Row K Seat 11 | May 9, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Can't hit gold with every signing. But, clearly, the Estrada is, to quote Mr. Fawlty, "a waste of space."

Posted by: MVN | May 9, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

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