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Flores Has Torn Right Labrum; Will Miss 3-6 Months

The Nats pulled off a rare feat Tuesday night, actually losing a nine-inning game in roughly two innings. They were down 5-0 at the end of the second; that was also the final score. Cliff Lee was dealin' the whole night, and the Nationals -- with some buffoon baserunning plays, an error, and a rough start by Garrett Mock -- were happy to be his foil.

But there's bigger news to mention here.

Jesus Flores has a right labrum tear.

This was supposed to be a seminal season in the catcher's development. Instead, he has gone sliding in the opposite direction, entirely because of injuries, and the latest one is the greatest setback yet. The Washington Nationals learned on Tuesday that Flores, 24, has a torn the right labrum, which will require surgery and force him to miss between three to six months.

Orthopedist James Andrews, who on Tuesday examined Flores in Birmingham, Ala., will perform the procedure -- technically, SLAP repair surgery -- on Wednesday.

"He should be ready for the middle of spring training, worst-case scenario," general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Since Flores emerged in 2008 as their everyday catcher, the Nationals have viewed him as one of their primary building blocks. But this year, they've hardly gotten a chance to see him. Struck in the shoulder by a foul ball on May 9, Flores has since been subject to a curious series of progressions and setbacks. He was initially diagnosed with a right shoulder contusion. He began a rehab assignment in late May. His injury then worsened into a stress fracture. He took the summer off. Right arm still weak, he came off the disabled list on Sept. 4, exclusively to pinch-hit. But he complained of shoulder pain, and the team asked for a subsequent examination.

Rizzo revealed on Tuesday that within the last month Flores has dealt with shoulder tendinitis. Originally, Washington believed that was a benign sign of his recovery process. But the Andrews' examination showed otherwise.

The Nationals, Rizzo said, do not believe Flores' latest injury is related to his previous shoulder problems.

Explaining how the labrum tear went unnoticed until now, Rizzo said, "[Flores] had an MRI on August 12. And it didn't show a tear. He was examined by Andrews at that time and our [team] doctor, Wiemi Douoghui. He was examined three different times as he was on the disabled list and had two sets of MRIs that showed no tear. With the persistence of the tendinitis in his shoulder we felt it was prudent to send him back [for subsequent testing]."

Since returning from the disabled list, Flores had three pinch-hit at bats, most recently on Sept. 12. Rizzo said that Flores' injury won't necessarily prompt the Nationals to seek a starting catcher via trade or free agency this offseason.

"We're going to look at all the option," Rizzo said. "But catcher, with the people we have on staff right now and Jesus, we feel comfortable where we're at."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 15, 2009; 11:35 PM ET
 
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Next: Some Thoughts on the Flores Injury

Comments

the good news just keeps coming for this team, doesn't it? ay-yi-yi.

Posted by: surly_w | September 15, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

The terms of Bryce Harper's contract just rose by $1 million.

Posted by: VPaterno | September 16, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Good gosh, it's Nick Johnson all over again.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | September 16, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to be too pessimistic, but some arms don't recover real well from labrum surgery. My son was a high school pitcher when he had it, and he can't throw as hard now as he did before. I hope the results are better for Jesus.

Posted by: nats24 | September 16, 2009 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Is this team jinxed? The Cubs? The Mets? The Nats?

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 16, 2009 6:16 AM | Report abuse

... oh, NO! Mike R says "He should be ready for ... blah, blah, blah." Sorry Mike, but I heard it all before. Anyone remember the timeframe for Nicky J's return??

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | September 16, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Among this team's many needs are a competent team doctor. Like others, I'm afraid Kid Flores is a lot closer to Nick Johnson than Johnny Bench. He's day to day ... expected to be ready for mid-spring training ... of 2012. Add catcher to this team's list of growing needs: starting pitching, 7th-8th inning bullpen guy, good-fielding shortstop in case Desmond isn't ready, etc. etc.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 16, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Hard to blame the team for this one given the fact that they had nationally renowned Dr. ANdrews involved from the start. I heard Diblle question why they had him up this September at all, but its possible that by so doing they discovered the tear (not casued it) thereby allowing them to get it fixed over the offseason.

Bard is a free agent, but is probably willing to bhe signed. Nieves is still under contract. Montz is AAAA at best. Norris and Nieto still a year or two away. Schneider is a free agent and the Mets do not expect to sign him. He would be a nice safe sign. He could backup Flores if healthy and team with Nieves or Bard if not. Who knows maybe the opening day roster has Schneider and Hernandez as the battery mates. (Not saying that's a good sign, just saying ....)

As to Rizzo, remember the GM Handbook dictates that he report all surgeries are "successful", all recoveries are "expected", and by all means we will "look at every option".

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 16, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Rizzo sure as hell better be looking for another catcher. Even with Flores healthy we needed an upgrade at the backup position, now we should be looking for the best available starter and let Jesus back him up.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | September 16, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with PB69, we should be hunting for an upgrade. Catchers get hurt, and 2 is a critical position.

As for Jesus, sorry but I'm pessimistic. This is a hard injury to come back from quickly or solidly.

Posted by: ihatewalks | September 16, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Must be a pretty minor labrum tear to have recovery expected in 3-6 months. Chad Cordero still hasn't come back from his surgery. Ryan Wagner missed a season and a half and then retired. I realize that catching isn't pitching, but you need a strong arm, and he's not going to have one for quite awhile. I'm afraid I'm not as optimistic as Rizzo.

Posted by: Section222 | September 16, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, two years ago a guy named Brian Lawrence showed up in Vierra and promptly was escorted to surgery with a Torn Labrium never to be heard from again!

Not saying that will be the same fate for Mr. Flowers but..., since 2008 the guy has had a multitude of mishaps and injuries. Josh Bard and Will Nieves (yes Will Nieves) are not the short and or long term solution. Rizzo no use blowing smoke up our a**es go find a catcher.

Anyone catch the Dibble rants last night? Gotta love it when he says things like, "if things don't change around here management must like to lose 100 games every year". He was talking about Mocks inability to pick a pitch and stay with it for the first 9 batters and then start mixing it up the second time thru. Dibs claims he has brought this issue up to McCatty, Riggleman and anyone else who will listen and they seem to agree yet nothing changes. Point I think he is trying to make is, these guys (Mock, Stammen, Detwiller, Martin, etc.) have great stuff it just that they show it all in the first two innings and teams like the Phillies feast on it.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 16, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes you have to wake up and smell the flowers. I'm as patient as anyone, but I can't keep watching Bard leave the bases loaded like he did yet again last night. I know Joe Mauer's do not grow on trees, but it's time to get a healthy catcher back there to at least push Bard and Nieves more.

Posted by: dand187 | September 16, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I hear Belliard selected Flores for his fantasy team last spring.

Actually it is probably because I choose Flores. I'm also responsible for Jose Reyes going down.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 16, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I believe this makes Catcher the #1 priority for upgrade next season, more than starting pitching or middle infield; okay, maybe bullpen help matters more. Our catching has to be the worst in baseball. If Rizzo thinks we have options there, he knows something none of the rest of us have seen. Flores career is in jeopardy. You can officially cross him out as a building block and move him into the question mark category. He may get well. He may get well but lose arm strength such that he has to change positions. He may not be able to play again. Those are the outcomes he faces, all of which are proably about equal in likelihood.

Dibble is an idiot. Rather than ranting and raving, why doesn't he just point out that Mock does not have the necessary command to be a big league pitcher? He raves about his stuff and then rants about his inability to harness and control it. Mock is another Hanrahan, live arm without any semblance of command. Simply put, he doesn't have the ability to succeed in the majors. Actually, he never tore up the minors either, for that matter. Why won't he throw strike one? He can't throw strike one! It's not because nobody ever told him to or that he doesn't want to; he simply doesn't have the ability to throw strike one.

Posted by: Section314 | September 16, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

AAAAAAARGGGGH. Well I guess this adds credence to Bill Ladson's report that Brian Schneider might be re-signing with the Nats for next year.
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/new_york_mets/index.html

Posted by: CoachD1 | September 16, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

>Dibble is an idiot. Rather than ranting and raving, why doesn't he just point out that Mock does not have the necessary command to be a big league pitcher? He raves about his stuff and then rants about his inability to harness and control it. Mock is another Hanrahan

Got news for you man - it's much harder to repeat your delivery when you throw every one of your pitches to each hitter. If you stick to certain pitches, it becomes much easier to throw strikes because you're throwing the same pitch, with the same grip, the same arm speed and the same delivery. That's how you throw strikes.
Hanrahan's a bad example for your point - his ERA is down in the 2's now. Do your homework before you blame the announcer for the clueless way this pitching staff goes about its job. You're the idiot. And I'm being kind.

Posted by: Brue | September 16, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

>Explaining how the labrum tear went unnoticed until now, Rizzo said, "[Flores] had an MRI on August 12. And it didn't show a tear. He was examined by Andrews at that time and our [team] doctor, Wiemi Douoghui. He was examined three different times as he was on the disabled list and had two sets of MRIs that showed no tear. With the persistence of the tendinitis in his shoulder we felt it was prudent to send him back [for subsequent testing]."

They didn't see a tear on Aug. 12 because there wasn't one. It occured after they sent him out there to throw and then finally to swing a bat. You can tear a labrum swinging a bat almost as easy as you can by overthrowing. Why they rushed him back on a team 45 games under .500 is beyond belief. What a bunch of hacks.

Posted by: Brue | September 16, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

>I know Joe Mauer's do not grow on trees, but it's time to get a healthy catcher back there to at least push Bard and Nieves more.

Posted by: dand187

They grow on trees if you have the number one pick. This team won't be ready to win anything until Bryce Harper is ready for the bigs anyway. That's the cold, hard truth. The team's at least 2-3 years away from being respectable. Bryce or bust baybee suck on it and like it Rizzo

Posted by: Brue | September 16, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

They didn't see a tear on Aug. 12 because there wasn't one. It occured after they sent him out there to throw and then finally to swing a bat. You can tear a labrum swinging a bat almost as easy as you can by overthrowing. Why they rushed him back on a team 45 games under .500 is beyond belief. What a bunch of hacks.

Posted by: Brue | September 16, 2009 10:09 AM
-------------------------------

Brue - According to what I hear it is a S.L.A.P. tear which wouldn't occur from swinging the bat. It would come from over throwing or a fall injury. The SLAP is at the point where the bicep tendon goes into the shoulder area.

Strange thing it is usually from overthrowing.

Glad it was discovered now and glad Dr. Andrews is doing the surgery.

Expect 6 months full recovery.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 16, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

There was no reason for Flores to be out there pinch-hitting. This injury happened because he was trying to play when he wasn't 100%. It's too early to classify him as a NJ - I don't think this injury is his fault, I blame the FO. I'm freaking pissed.

But let's not all go crazy - middle infield and pitching are still higher off-season priorities over catcher. The fact is, most catchers suck. And this in no way impacts us drafting or not drafting Harper. This is not the NFL - draft picks take YEARS, especially guys straight out of middle school. If anything, it rushes Norris a bit. If Norris does well in the AFL, maybe he will be on the fast track next year and be ready for the majors in '11.

But whatever catchers are out there aren't going to be much better than Bard. Maybe Schneider comes back (with his .220 avg), but I'm not expecting much of an upgrade at all.

Posted by: sec307 | September 16, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

So who are the free agent catchers who can have an impact at the plate AND behind the plate for us in 2010?

Posted by: markfd | September 16, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I said this in an earlier post i for one am not sold on McCatty as the pitching coach for these Nats,as far as Flores is concerned why wasn't the torn labrum discovered before all this and how come he was allowed to swing a bat and who gave the go ahead, clearly their is a serious lack of communication. Mike Rizzo's got a lot of off season work to do and i don't think Riggleman is going to be brought back as the manager,just a gut feeling,also i am not a fan of Bard at all too slow(even without the groin) average arm and bat. Pitching is really the elephant in the room i agree with Dibble we are not very smart in that area of expertise and that is where McCatty and the catchers come into play.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 16, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I seem to remember Charlie & Dave ruminating on the possibility of a Return of Schneider last weekend, maybe earlier, but before the Flores news broke. Perhaps they're psychic. But agreed that you don't deviate from getting starting pitching and bullpen help before dropping a dime on a catcher. Rizzo's optimism, I would guess, is as much marketing as it is medicine. I wouldn't think he'd want other GMs to know that we're desperate for catching.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 16, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Brue: I guess you are right, talent has nothing to do with it. Baseball is all mental. The Pirates teachings have clearly clicked with Hanrahan and his whole career stats are meaningless. The entire Pirates organization has demonstrated a long history of being able to clue pitchers into to how to pitch. The Nats should be so lucky as to be able to emulate that organization's success! Pitchers like Joel who have the control to only walk 6 batters per 9 innings and who get two ground outs for every three flyball outs do very well over the long run, don't they.

Posted by: Section314 | September 16, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I remember a time when every one of Brian Schneider's RBI's had come on ground outs. He just is not a good hitter, and I don't think his behind the plate skills are that great anymore either. As for handling the pitchers, my view is that, like being a "good clubhouse guy," this talent is overrated. And I certainly hope we have seen the last of a starting rotation made up of five guys in their first and or second year where sacrificing a bat for that kind of talent might be justified.

I know lots of people have a soft spot in their hearts for him, but Brian Schneider, like Austin Kearns, should not be part of the 2010 Nats.

It certainly is disturbing that Flores' torn labrum may have occurred after August 12. Flores had the potential to be a huge star. Now he's a huge question mark. I feel for him.

Posted by: Section222 | September 16, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

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