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Flores Activated, Strasburg Works Out, And Other Notes

Jesus Flores hasn't appeared in a major league baseball game since May 9. His upper body still shows the effects of a summer-long rehab from a serious right shoulder injury. He still can't throw with enough strength to appear on the field -- at least without a bat in his hands. But despite those limitations, the Washington Nationals on Friday activated their 24-year-old catcher from the disabled list, hoping he can at least assist in a pinch-hitting role.

"He just gives us one more option to swing the bat," interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

That Flores has come even this far registers as a surprise. When Washington first detected Flores's stress fracture in late May, team officials feared he would miss the entire season. But Flores, recently cleared to resume upper-body weight lifting, has gained enough strength to swing a bat -- though "he doesn't have the arm strength to throw in a ballgame," Riggleman said.

General manager Mike Rizzo kept open the chance -- if only a slight one -- that Flores could appear defensively later in the season.

"He's catching bullpens," Rizzo said. "He's full-go to swing the bat; he's a guy that Jim can use as an emergency third catcher and a bat off the bench."

*

Friday afternoon, the Nationals were still awaiting results of an MRI on Craig Stammen's elbow. Stammen, who disclosed on Wednesday that he'd been pitching for several months with elbow soreness, is unlikely to pitch again this season -- no matter the results of the test.

A 25-year-old rookie who went 4-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 19 starts, Stammen, because of innings limitations, would have been able to make only two more starts this year anyway.

"Unless there's really nothing completely wrong I doubt they'll bring me back," Stammen said. "Risk-reward isn't worth it."

*

Now matter the evolution of Stephen Strasburg's career, it's unlikely that the 21-year-old pitcher will ever find himself in more of a purgatory. With his first group of professional teammates already finished with their season, with his next formal team not scheduled to play until October 13, Strasburg currently finds himself in the big leagues, a visitor just passing through.

"He's really here because he's kind of at an in-between time," Riggleman said.

Friday, for the first time, Strasburg followed the routine of a big leaguer. He reported to work at Nationals Park, stashed his belongings in his own locker, and performed early afternoon conditioning drills. Just three hours before the evening's game, Strasburg, wearing his No. 37 jersey, found himself on the field with the big league pitchers, fielding choppers and tossing them to first baseman Adam Dunn.

But for Strasburg, this is all temporary. He's not on the Nationals' roster, nor will he watch games from the dugout.

He's spending a week in Washington for a simple reason: The Nationals have nowhere else to send him.

Strasburg, the No. 1 draft pick who agreed to a four-year, $15.1 million contract on August 17, began his professional career last Sunday in Viera, Fla., performing conditioning drills in preparation for pitching performances in the informal late-September Florida Instructional League and the more organized mid-October Arizona Fall League. (He'll play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs.) But this week, with the end of the Gulf Coast season, Viera emptied out -- and Strasburg lost his workout partners.

"So his teammates are gone," Riggleman said. "So rather than go home and restart, we're just bringing him here to continue his conditioning and work on the field a little bit with [pitching coach] Steve McCatty, let everybody kind of get a look at him. The only thing he's gonna get out of this is continued conditioning and preparing himself for the Instructional League."

Strasburg will also pitch in the Arizona Fall League, which begins October 13.

While Strasburg is with the Nationals, team officials are trying to minimize the attention on him, shielding him from media interviews. Strasburg, though, seemed happy to talk casually.

Rizzo said that Strasburg will remain with the team for this six-game homestand, traveling with them to Miami for a three-game series against the Marlins that begins September 11.

"Then he'll go to Instructional League from Miami," Rizzo said.

*

The Nationals have decided that right-handed pitcher Josh Wilkie (2.42 ERA in 50 games with Class AAA Syracuse and Class AA Harrisburg) will be their sixth and final representative in the Arizona Fall League... The Nationals on Friday officially activated left-handed reliever Victor Garate, the 24-year-old they received from Los Angeles as the final part of the Ronnie Belliard trade. Garate, who was previously at Class AA, admitted the jump was significant. "Yes," he said. "But it's exciting."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 4, 2009; 6:39 PM ET
 
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Next: Stammen: Bone Spur In Elbow, Out Six Weeks

Comments

Very good news regarding Flores; jury's still out on Stammen - hope it ends well. Strasburg in limbo - I blame Bora$. Wilkie to the AFL, joining Strasburg, Espinosa, et al - good.

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Muck the Farlins...I hate these guys!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 4, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Ugh.

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 4, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Mock will probably last 3 innings. Seriously, give Clippard a start. He could do better than this guy.

Posted by: rachel216 | September 4, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Mock hasn't walked anyone. Its only 3 runs. Hopefully, he will settle down now.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"Make a hole, make it deep" - James Earl Jones, Gardens of Stone (1987)

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Hanley Ramirez -> Nats.

- Kevin Costner, "Field of Dreams"

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

JD Martin: looking better and better for a soft tosser.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I came in to put food away after dinner, and the Nats have already gone down 3-0. I had no idea Flores was activated, but it doesn't seem it will be necessary to use him today.

Look both ways before crossing the street, Bryce Harper.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | September 4, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

peri, you amaze me - I can't figure out if you're a full-blown "Pollyanna" optimist; overly obsessed with the next "new" thing; ingesting chemical compounds that most of us don't have access to; or just a goofball that posts whatever the last thought was in your head.

It's probably better that I don't know - The therapy could get expensive.

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

AG comes through in the clutch!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 4, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

Patience is a virtue with baseball, but I've just about run out ... :) Rizzo I believe needs to be more than a bit more aggressive than Bowden. It does seem like that is his nature though ... and who knows sometimes we get what we wish for.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which ... triple by A. Gonzalez. Guess he still wants that job everyone seems to think he has lost?

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Garate in relief?

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me Mock is done for the night. Hoping for Burnett to start the 4th (a LH might cool things off for the Marlins).

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Mock's down to 20 pitches now.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Hammer Time!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 4, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Could be a fun September if Willingham gets back his stroke! Nice homer there!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 4, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

offense is back ... phhhheeeeeeeewwwww.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

NOW we score 5 runs. Where were these runs when they were in San Diego and the pitching was good?

Posted by: rachel216 | September 4, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Rivera on to start the 4th - why am I not comfortable with this?

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

On the other side of the diamond, West is done after three as well - who's got next for the Marlins?

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"NOW we score 5 runs. Where were these runs when they were in San Diego and the pitching was good?

Posted by: rachel216 | September 4, 2009"

No good luck "mojo". No Belliard.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell is not a good replacement for Morgan, at least offensively.

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 4, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell? Looks like AAA next year unless he is traded in the offseason.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

New pitcher time.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell looked lost up there that last at bat. He is not making a good case for himself; that he can hack it at the Major League level.

Posted by: bigmook | September 4, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh Dukes ...

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow. When periculum and the NJ crowd is turning on Maxy, there's no hope. Just not ready for prime time.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 4, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Dukes. Right on cue, K at a very important time. I think its time to try a different RF. The Nats know what they get from Dukes.

Posted by: JT2009 | September 4, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

G'night, Gracie.

Posted by: BinM | September 4, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Nats now know what to do with Rivera as well. He probably won't be in Viera next yer.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Too bad about Maxwell, I was hoping he'd straighten things out and get going offensively. His emergence could've made it easier to trade Dukes or at least push Dukes...competition for playing time is a good thing.

Posted by: derwink | September 4, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"His emergence could've made it easier to trade Dukes or at least push Dukes...competition for playing time is a good thing.

Posted by: derwink | September 4, 2009"

At this point Daniel is Duke's competition. Bernadina, Maxwell competition for Morgan.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Get your fire engine red on here comes Sosa.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

JD Martin right now appears to be looking better than Mock, Stammen, and Lannan. Only fellow, much, much lower speed soft-tosser Livan Hernandez looks better ... much better to boot.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys and ladies,

What is our No. 1 and 2 priorities in the offseason?

1. Starting pitching
2. Relief pitching
3. Second base
4. Shortstop
5. Right field
6. Catching.

I'm curious to hear everybody's thoughts...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 4, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Did Nats Park just play part of the score from There Will be Blood in this Dukes at-bat?

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | September 4, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Bard with 3 strike outs.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Does Maxwell not have the arm for right? His CF range would probably do well in RF.

Posted by: derwink | September 4, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

runners on base, Nats need runs...and Dukes goes fishing for a walk!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 4, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"Does Maxwell not have the arm for right? His CF range would probably do well in RF.

Posted by: derwink | September 4, 2009"

Maxwell can't seem to hit? He bats right. He isn't even close to as good as Dukes. Daniel bats left. Have to see how he does in AAA. Ian Desmond might also be able to play that position. Then there's Mike Morse who hit .336 with 16 homers in AAA. Bernadina who bats left.

Maxwell has lost a lot of ground this year.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

At least they aren't going out with a whimper as they did in San Diego.

Posted by: periculum | September 4, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah i'm with most of you Maxwell(not the singer) looks overmatched and he been taking way too many pitches called looking K's and his outfield defense has regressed and oh yeah Dan Uggala thanks for waking Hanley Ramierez up just in time for this series.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 4, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

> Maxwell has lost a lot of ground this year.

So has Dukes.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 5, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

runners on base, Nats need runs...and Dukes goes fishing for a walk!
____

What's he supposed to do when they throw him four balls? Swing at them? Guy's darned whatever he does, no discipline, free swinger, can't recognize breaking pitches, and now he walks too much. Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds, and Adam Dunn would take a walk when it was offered to them. Dukes made a smart play.

Posted by: markfromark | September 5, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

We as Nats fans spend a lot of mental effort hoping for the most from our bargain basement players. Let's call up JD Martin. Look how Padilla is burning up AAA ball! Let's see what Maxwell gives us. Shairon Martis is due for another shot. We have to find a place for Willie Harris in this lineup. And it goes on and on. This is all good, since it is what fans do.

In this off-season, we should improve our outlook, and bring ownership along with us. I realize they do not care about fan opinion so much, but they have to care some about their paying customers. The owners need to invest in the club, or we, the fans, will be stuck with similar hopes about marginal players next season.

If the Nats cannot invest at a level that is the median for all of MLB (like Cleveland or Toronto, which would be a 33 percent increase in team payroll) then at least the Nats could spend at a level that is the median of the bottom half of MLB in terms of team expenditures (which would bring us to Cincinnati's level, still a hefty 18 percent increase in payroll).

Why not insist on this minimal level of commitment for the Lerners? The Nats lose Nick, Kearns and Dmitri off the payroll, so with those payroll losses plus an 18 percent increase in 2010 over 2009, a payroll that is at the median of the bottom half of MLB would help a lot.

Naturally, many of us would hope for lot more than just average among the bottom half in MLB expenditures (it still sounds puny) but this minimal increase in ownership commitment would help a great deal. Rizzo seems like a talented GM, who would spend wisely on young, talented players.

Posted by: EdDC | September 5, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

The Nats should have a higher payroll. Agreed. But who do we want them to pay? The needs are in the rotation, the pen, middle infield and possibly one OF slot.

Here are the free agent middle infielders:

Second basemen
Ronnie Belliard (35)
Jamey Carroll (36)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Mark DeRosa (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Orlando Hudson (32)
Akinori Iwamura (31) - $4.25MM club option with a $250K buyout
Adam Kennedy (34)
Felipe Lopez (30)
Mark Loretta (38)
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Placido Polanco (34)
Freddy Sanchez (32) - $8MM club option with a $600K buyout; vests with 600 PAs
Juan Uribe (31)

Shortstops
Orlando Cabrera (35)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Adam Everett (33)
Chris Gomez (39)
Alex Gonzalez (32) - $6MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
Khalil Greene (30)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
John McDonald (35)
Marco Scutaro (34)
Miguel Tejada (36)
Omar Vizquel (43)
Jack Wilson (32) - $8.4MM club option with a $600K buyout

Posted by: BobLHead | September 5, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

And here are the free agent OFs:

Left fielders
Garret Anderson (38)
Marlon Anderson (36)
Jason Bay (31)
Emil Brown (35)
Carl Crawford (28) - $10MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout
Johnny Damon (36)
David Dellucci (36)
Cliff Floyd (37)
Matt Holliday (30)
Jacque Jones (35)
Gabe Kapler (34)
Greg Norton (37)
Wily Mo Pena (28)
Manny Ramirez (38) - $20MM player option
Dave Roberts (38)
Fernando Tatis (35)

Center fielders
Rick Ankiel (30)
Rocco Baldelli (28)
Marlon Byrd (32)
Mike Cameron (37)
Endy Chavez (32)
Coco Crisp (30) - $8MM club option with a $500K buyout
Darin Erstad (36)
Ryan Freel (34)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Reed Johnson (33)
Andruw Jones (33)
Gabe Kapler (34)
Mark Kotsay (34)
Corey Patterson (30)
Scott Podsednik (34)

Right fielders
Bobby Abreu (36)
Jermaine Dye (36) - $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Brian Giles (39)
Vladimir Guerrero (34)
Eric Hinske (32)
Geoff Jenkins (35) - $7.5MM mutual option with a $1.25MM buyout
Gabe Kapler (34)
Austin Kearns (30) - $10MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Jason Michaels (34)
Xavier Nady (31)
Magglio Ordonez (36) - $18MM club/vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Randy Winn (36)

Posted by: BobLHead | September 5, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Starters:

Starting pitchers
Brandon Backe (32)
Miguel Batista (39)
Josh Beckett (30) - $12MM club/vesting option with a $2MM buyout
Erik Bedard (31)
Kris Benson (34)
Daniel Cabrera (29)
Chris Capuano (31)
Bartolo Colon (37)
Jose Contreras (38)
Doug Davis (34)
Justin Duchscherer (32)
Adam Eaton (32)
Shawn Estes (37)
Josh Fogg (33)
Freddy Garcia (34)
Jon Garland (30) - $10MM mutual option with $2.5MM or $1MM buyout
Tom Glavine (44)
Mike Hampton (37)
Rich Harden (28)
Mark Hendrickson (36)
Livan Hernandez (35)
Tim Hudson (34) - $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Jason Jennings (31)
Jason Johnson (36)
Randy Johnson (46)
John Lackey (31)
Cliff Lee (31) - $8MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Braden Looper (35) - $6.5MM mutual option with possible buyout
Rodrigo Lopez (34)
Jason Marquis (31)
Kevin Millwood (35) - Rangers can decline $12MM salary for '10 unless he reaches 180 innings in '09
Brian Moehler (38) - mutual option
Brett Myers (29)
Vicente Padilla (32)
Chan Ho Park (37)
John Parrish (32)
Carl Pavano (34)
Brad Penny (32)
Odalis Perez (33)
Andy Pettitte (38)
Joel Pineiro (31)
Sidney Ponson (33)
Mark Prior (28)
Horacio Ramirez (30)
Jason Schmidt (37)
John Smoltz (43)
Tim Wakefield (43) - perpetual $4MM club option
Jarrod Washburn (35)
Brandon Webb (31) - $8.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Todd Wellemeyer (31)
Kip Wells (33)
Randy Wolf (33)

Posted by: BobLHead | September 5, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

And finally, bullpen help:

Closers
Mike Gonzalez (32)
Kevin Gregg (32)
Trevor Hoffman (42)
Fernando Rodney (33)
Rafael Soriano (30)
Jose Valverde (30)
Billy Wagner (38) - $8MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Right-handed relievers
Luis Ayala (32)
Danys Baez (32)
Joaquin Benoit (32)
Rafael Betancourt (35) - $5.4MM club option
Chad Bradford (35)
Doug Brocail (43) - $2.85MM club option with a $250K buyout
Chad Cordero (28)
Elmer Dessens (38)
Brendan Donnelly (38)
Octavio Dotel (36)
Kelvim Escobar (33)
Eric Gagne (34)
Tom Gordon (42)
LaTroy Hawkins (37)
Matt Herges (40)
Bob Howry (36)
Jason Isringhausen (37)
Jorge Julio (31)
Masahide Kobayashi (36)
Brandon Lyon (30)
Gary Majewski (30)
Guillermo Mota (36)
Troy Percival (40)
J.J. Putz (33) - $9.15MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Juan Rincon (31)
Duaner Sanchez (30)
Rudy Seanez (41)
Russ Springer (41)
Julian Tavarez (37)
Luis Vizcaino (35)
David Weathers (40)
Jamey Wright (35)
Yasuhiko Yabuta (37) - $4MM club option with a $500K buyout

Left-handed relievers
Joe Beimel (32)
Alan Embree (40) - $3MM club option with a $250K buyout
Scott Eyre (38)
Casey Fossum (32)
John Grabow (31)
Eddie Guardado (39)
Ron Mahay (39)
Will Ohman (31) - $2.2MM club option with a $200K buyout
Darren Oliver (39)
Glendon Rusch (35)
Scott Schoeneweis (36)
Brian Shouse (41) - club option
Ron Villone (40)
Jamie Walker (38)

Posted by: BobLHead | September 5, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Not very many interesting names on those lists, are there? Here are the few that I think are at least worth discussing:

Orlando Hudson
Mark DeRosa

Jason Bay
Matt Holliday
Rick Ankiel
Jermaine Dye
Magglio Ordonez

Freddy Garcia
Jon Garland
Rich Harden
Livan Hernandez
Tim Hudson
John Lackey
Cliff Lee
Braden Looper
Jason Marquis
Brad Penny
John Smoltz
Randy Wolf

Trevor Hoffman
Jose Valverde


So, who should they pay?

Posted by: BobLHead | September 5, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

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