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Flores, Crow, Willingham

Within a few days -- perhaps by Monday -- Jesus Flores, out since May 9 with a right shoulder contusion, will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment. Already, the Nats' everyday catcher is feeling better. Today, he took batting practice. His shoulder remains sore, but that's only from "doing a lot of exercise, being in the weight room and all that stuff," Flores said.

Provided all goes well with his recovery, Flores could return from the 15-day disabled list in a week or so. When Flores is finally fit to go, the Nationals hope that the catcher can begin a new rehabilitation project -- helping to improve their pitching staff. Though Flores is just 24, he has aptitude for pitch-calling and an ability to keep pitchers calm. With Flores behind the plate, Washington's pitchers have a collective 5.12 ERA. When either of Flores's back-ups are playing, the team ERA rises. Pitchers throwing to Wil Nieves have a 6.54 ERA this year; those throwing to Josh Bard have a 6.98 ERA.

Asked about the significance of those numbers, acting general manager Mike Rizzo said, "I put a lot of stock into it. The comfort level that a pitcher has with his catcher is not to be underestimated." Rizzo added, "He's our main game-caller. He's one of our best, most potent bats in the lineup. He's a real offensive force, and he's a good everyday catcher. It's your everyday guy. It's your future rock behind the plate. Yeah, we miss him a lot."


Last year, the Nationals drafted pitcher Aaron Crow in the first round and failed to sign him. This year, the Nationals have some interest in re-selecting Crow with their No. 10 pick in the first round of the June 9 draft -- but in order to have that option, Crow must sign a re-consent form, which is the only way a player can be drafted more than once by the same team. Hoping for permission, Rizzo has spoken with Randy and Alan Hendricks, the team of agents that represents the pitcher.

"I've been in discussion with the Hendricks brothers about it," Rizzo said. "But he hasn't signed a consent form yet, no."


Josh Willingham, who is splitting outfield time with Austin Kearns, has started nine of the last 13 games, including tonight. Kearns missed four of those games because of a minor hand injury, but even so, Willingham's recent form -- and Kearns' .190 May average -- is forcing an imbalance. Manager Manny Acta, though, reiterated that Willingham has not won a corner outfield job, and said he still intends to give the two equal playing time.

"Don't try to make a story out of it," Acta said, smiling. "We'll continue to get both guys playing time, and until one of those guys just takes off and makes me put him in the lineup every single day. You're dying to write that some guy has been benched and the other is taking his job."

By Chico Harlan  |  May 22, 2009; 7:02 PM ET
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Next: Relievers As Hitters


That Maxwell kid is never gonna make it as a CF'er in this league...did you see how he handled that line drive...ran to the right spot and stood there like a flailing, no looping route, no fake dive...weak.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | May 22, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Note to Rizzo - Just tell the Brothers' Hendricks not to worry, the re-draft agreement is off the table & the Nationals are moving on. There are players who could be available at #10 who would appreciate a chance for a fast-track to a MLB contract via the Nationals (Green, Scheppers, Tate, Gibson, etc.).

Posted by: BinM | May 22, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, offers its 2009 Baseball Draft Guide. The Guide includes RBI's Top 400 draft prospects, scouting reports of the top ten players at each position, a mock draft and more. It is available at

Posted by: bhyman1 | May 22, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Is it my imagination, or does Zimm (Zinn?) get better as the games goes on?

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 22, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

So...let's just say Crow does sign the consent form, what the heck is the signing bonus??? Do they pay him like a number 10, or like a guy who is looking to have earned something by holding out for a year? There's a lot of complications with thinking of selecting this kid.

Posted by: Section220 | May 22, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse


It's not just your imagination - when JZimm has more than two of his pitches working, he tends to be better late than early. Incidentally, more than a few good-to-great pitchers have shown that pattern (Glavine, N.Ryan, P.Martinez). Just sayin', not comparing.

Posted by: BinM | May 22, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse


The re-consent form allows a team to draft the same player in consecutive years. I fully expect that the brothers' Hendricks would refuse the right (at the last possible moment, again); That's why I think the best possible move for Rizzo is to recind the offer & just move along. There will be quality players available at #10 who will want to play in the D.C. area, and be willing to negotiate a contract.

Posted by: BinM | May 22, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Why pull Zimmermann now? He has been lights out for the past few innings?

Posted by: twinbrook | May 22, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Re: Crow -- What you folks are missing is the essential piece. They're negotiating now. That consent will be given, if the Nats make an offer that Crow and his reps like. The market certainly hasn't gone up for Crow. It has to have gone down. That said, if he's willing to sign for less than $4 million, I'm sure there would be no problem.

I guess you can never have too much good young pitching, but if there's a position player of comparable talent, maybe the Nats should be looking at that....Of course, having good young pitchers in the system is what contending teams like to have when they're looking to make that mid-season trade to put them over the top.....

Posted by: fischy | May 22, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Umm, walk Jones to get to Markakis?

Posted by: swang30 | May 22, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and why wouldn't Acta do a double switch, Belly for Hernandez, and bat the Pitcher where Belly batted? This way, you still (pretty much) have to use up a position player, and it forces you to keep beimel at 1 inning.

Posted by: swang30 | May 22, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Manny, regarding Kearns and Willingham, we just want you to do something that makes sense. Until then, our fans by proxy will continue to ask.

About Crow: Having Bowden out of the equation makes it possible for the frosty relationship between the Hendrickses and the Nationals to thaw, but I agree, it doesn't sound like they are worth the trouble.

Posted by: paulkp | May 22, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Swang30, Manny has never understood that aspect of the double switch. Drives me crazy.

Posted by: paulkp | May 22, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

It looks Kearns has fully reverted to his true form...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 22, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Why the hell didn't he have Maxwell steal in the 10th?

Posted by: MKadyman | May 22, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Give up a hit to the pitcher and look what happens. Good night...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 22, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: swang30 | May 22, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Wait. Didn't they just IBB Jones in the 9th to get to Markakis? Why didn't they do it this tim? It's not as if 2nd and 3rd or bases loaded is anything different in this situation?

Posted by: swang30 | May 22, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: paulkp | May 22, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals still stink. 3-8 is the BEST we can hope for on this homestand, and it could very well be 1-10. Not good.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 22, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Somebody .....anybody .....PLEASE tell me what is Manny Acta's value.......because again tonight I do not see it ...I can not see he has any effect but negative .....WHAT an I missing ..BTW I hate this cross MASN thing.....ARGHHHH....where's the Tylenol

Posted by: CBinDC | May 22, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's add "give up single to American League relief pitcher in top of 12th" to the list of the ways in which these Nats have imploded this season. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | May 22, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

This is going to end up one of those "defining moments" commercials for the Orioles next season.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 22, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. Cut Wells. Call up Clippard. Cut Belliard. Call up Gonzalez. How hard is that to figure out???

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | May 22, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

My only issue with Manny in this game is his decision to let Kip Wells go a 2nd inning. He at least should have taken him out after Roberts' ground rule double. Let's not forget that leaving Wells in too long was how we lost the LAST extra innings game last week. Get Wells his inning and get him out! No logic in letting him pitch to Jones. And don't tell me no one else was available. At the very least, Tavarez's rubber arm could have gotten an out. I like Wells, but know his limitations. This one is on Acta.

Posted by: kfisher32 | May 22, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

KFisher - Sure in hindsight with Wells is still a maybe, maybe not. He was 1 lucky hit by a pitcher away from getting out of it.

Great job by Manny pulling Bergmann after that walk!!! Glad he had several arms up in the bullpen to pull a reliever quickly.

Real nice outing by Jordan Zimmermann. Wish the offense could have piled a few more on to get him a W.

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 22, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

The "single" to the pitcher was bad luck when it bounced off the plate. It's what happened with the subsequent batters that really did us in. Have to say that once it went to extra innings I was not optimistic. It was a well-pitched game overall. Also, is it just me or did Beimel look like he might be coming back? As for the offense, not much happening with RISP for us tonight.

BTW, aren't all losses on Acta? At least, I've gotten that impression from many posts of late.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

So, how bout that O's/Nat's Game eh?

Good ole Dannys Baez coming through in the cluth.

Posted by: Os_Exec | May 22, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

We missed you - not.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

What's a "cluth," by the way?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey the song Born under a bad sign by Cream from the alblum Disralei Gears featuring Eric Clapton,Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker comes to mind whenever i'm watching this team next thing you know i'll be back to smoking weed!!

Posted by: dargregmag | May 22, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Belliard looked as if he was standing in the dugout when at the plate ..........what was that about.....why why why do I care

Posted by: CBinDC | May 22, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

What's a "cluth," by the way?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 22, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse
Oh, don't be a pedant. You're too clever.

Posted by: soundbloke | May 22, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

drat...more tossin and turnin tonight...

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 22, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Kip to go. And I don't mean to Syracuse where he would just eat up innings better invested in young pitchers. Kip doesn't have Major League stuff anymore, he's an industrial league pitcher pitching way out of his depth. Tonight it was a reliever with no major league hits to his credit. What next, the peanut vendor rapping out a game winning single, the bat boy? We were better off with Garrett Mock who is at least young and with potential. If someone else wants to take a chance on him fine, but lets move on.

Posted by: lesatcsc | May 22, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Again, the only problem with wells is that Manny seems to be treating him as a long reliever. He rarely gets in trouble in his first inning of work (at least relative to the rest of our bullpen). Garrett Mock?!? Please.

Posted by: kfisher32 | May 22, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Mock has thrown 13.0 innings and got hit 16 times, with 10 ER and 8 BB.

Wells has has thrown 18.0 innings and got hit 16 times, with 12 ER and 14 BB.

They're both horrible. "You can't shine a turd."

Posted by: grandstander | May 22, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Ye gads Mock Wells ... Garrot Kip ...

Guess that's Bergmann's new job. To send Wells off.

Posted by: periculum | May 23, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Out west right now, so can only catch up on the games through the MLB, WP recaps and here (though I just noticed Holiday Inn's got a complimentary free promo for gameday audio, so I'll check that out tomorrow eve — I definitely miss me some Mssrs. Slowes and Jageler!)

It was nice to see Da Guuuuz get the #1 web gem this eve, despite Buck Showalter's protestations...(it was a helluva play)

While I, like a couple of others I've seen here, am a fan of both the Nats and O's (the team, not the owner — my favorite Nats player's jersey I ever saw in '05 was one for a player named Fukangelos), I wanna see the Nats get the next 2... we need it more. Boy howdy do we.

Posted by: HotNats | May 23, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Aww, come on, leetee, not even with trolls? You'll spoil what little fun I have left as a Nats fan. Also, don't take that tone with your adoptive mother, young man... ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 23, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

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