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Posted at 2:08 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Jesus Flores is back

By Adam Kilgore

flores.jpg

It was easy to pick out the happiest member of the Nationals working out today in Viera. This time last year, Jesus Flores could not throw the ball back to the pitcher, and his spring would turn into nothing but a series of frustration and setbacks. His surgically repaired right shoulder would just not heal. At times during 2010, he said, he thought he might never play in the majors again.

Today, though, there was Flores, catching bullpen sessions, throwing the ball back as if it was second nature, just like it always used to be. Flores will be one of the most intriguing stories of this Nationals spring training. Throughout 2008 and the early portion of 2009, Flores became perhaps the most promising young Nationals player. He was a 24-year-old catcher who, in the first 26 games of the season, posted a .905 OPS. And now, after a trying recovery, he's back.

"My shoulder is finally healthy," Flores said. "It's a new year for me. I'm ready to compete. I feel 100 percent, physically, mentally. I'm really excited to start spring training.

"It is a big thing for me. God and baseball has given me another opportunity to come back, and I feel glad for it. The last couple of years have been really hard for me, but I don't want to think about that. It is in the past, and like I said, it's a new year for me."

Flores said nothing about his pregame or postgame routine has changed from before the surgery, which he underwent at the end of the 2009 season. He feels like the same player he was before the injury.

"I think even better," Flores said. "Because I feel like nothing else can scare me any more than being in surgery or recovering. A lot of frustration, a lot of bad moments make you a strong player."

Flores, though, is not guaranteed a spot. The Nationals also have Ivan Rodriguez and Wilson Ramos behind the plate, along with Derek Norris, the Nationals' best position-player prospect behind Bryce Harper, in the minors. Depending on how the spring plays out, Flores could find himself either playing at Class AAA Syracuse or included in a trade.

"Right now, I'm not thinking about that," Flores said. "I'm just thinking to keep healthy and show the team that I'm ready to be here. I know Pudge and Ramos, they're good players, good catchers. But I'm not afraid of anything. Baseball is baseball. You need to go out there every day, give your best, and let everything happen."

By Adam Kilgore  | February 14, 2011; 2:08 PM ET
 
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Comments

This guys is hoping and praying that "he's part of a trade" to get him as far away from the Natinals as he can get.

That's for sure.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 14, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Adam! 3 pieces in an hour, lots of excitement as we get ready to take another step toward respectability. I still think 75 wins is about right but wouldn't it be great if we were in the wild card hunt in Sept. Can't wait to see how the catching competition plays out. My guess is Ramos stays with the big club and Flores starts in AAA. Don't see Pudge lasting until the trade deadline with these two and Norris already here.

Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | February 14, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad he's back and i think he has a tremendous shot at going to DC.

Posted by: dargregmag | February 14, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

How fast has catching gone from a sore spot to a strong spot in Washington. I sense a trade coming also, but not necessarily Flores, though it could be. Just heard Jim Bowden on XM saying that Ted Lerner will offer Pujols a 10 year deal if he is on the market next off season, huh?

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 14, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Jesus!

Posted by: FloresFan | February 14, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

A pro's response. He just wants to help the Big Club, play them one game at a time, and the Good Lord willing, things will work out.

Nice to see he's been studying.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | February 14, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Adam, what specific injury did Jesus have, and ultimately, what surgery repair did Jesus undergo?

Curious, because I have a SLAP tear in my right (throwing) labrum and am pondering the traditional labrum repair vs. a biceps reattachment.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 14, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait till Jesus is back on the mound and Jesus is catching him. If Flores is back, I think both Pudge and Ramos get flipped. Both of them are far more valuable in the trade market.

Posted by: hansenjo | February 14, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Like Boz, I got out of town to someplace warm the two weeks prior to spring training. Now I get to come back to almost all of the snow melted and multiple daily posts from Viera!

Sounds like Flores' attitude has improved as much as his shoulder, and I rather expect last year's anger was largely a result of his frustration with the slow rehab process. Hope he does well, either with us or via a trade elsewhere.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 14, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the trade sentiments. I touched on our catching depth and its value in a trade here; http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=480 . There's several teams out there starting the season with no-names behind the plate and I think a deal could be had.

If Flores has a healthy spring, we need to either use him or trade one from Flores or Ramos. Both still have options so either could go to AAA, adding some flexibility to any trade possibilities.

Posted by: tboss | February 14, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

My expectation is that Flores outplays Ramos this spring, but still goes to Syracuse where he can play 5 - 6 games a week. Ramos comes to DC and plays 2 games a week.

Ideally, both Ramos and Flores are playing well, Yadier Molina gets hurt in early May and Rizzo trades Pudge to the STL for a bag of balls.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 14, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Good luck, Flores!

I am listening to Walter Johnson do play by play for a Senators game in 1939 with the Cleveland Indians! Amazing! It's part of a WAMU premium for their fundraising.

http://www.archive.org/download/CompleteBroadcastDay/WJSV_390921-COMPLETE_BROADCAST_DAY_PART_11.MP3

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 14, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

If they traded Flores to the Orioles to share catching time with Wieters and Tatum, it would be sort of a WTF catching situation. Oh wait, they already have that.

Posted by: whatsaNATaU | February 14, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Flores is geting back at it. The FO really botched his injury/rehab. I personally hope he can contribute and live out his MLB career.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 14, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"Agree with the trade sentiments. I touched on our catching depth and its value in a trade here; http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=480 . There's several teams out there starting the season with no-names behind the plate and I think a deal could be had."

You don't seem to understand the point of making a trade. The idea is not to deal away from an area where you have strength in order to improve other teams who might be lacking in that area. The idea is to find the players you need to improve your team on some other team's roster, and then try to trade for them, using the areas of overabundance on your team to supply the chips. Thus you don't look at both Flores and Ramos on your roster and say "we must trade one of them." Instead, when you see someone you want to acquire you approach the other team and when they ask what you have to offer, you throw out either Flores or Ramos as a chip to see if you can close the deal. It's Baseball GM 101. Looks like you skipped that class.

Posted by: FeelWood | February 14, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"The FO really botched his injury/rehab."

Would you care to explain just how they did that?

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | February 14, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | February 14, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Diagnosed the fracture with with an Xray instead of an MRI. Had they used an MRI it would have shown the full extent of the damage. So they sit him for a couple weeks when he should have been sitting for months. He should have been rested they kept him playing and it contributed to further injury. Thats how i saw it, i may be wrong though.

Posted by: Stu27 | February 14, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Flores was on his way as a top major league catcher before injury. He can hit. I hope they let the competition play out before moving one of these guys. Both Flores and Ramos have a lot of promise.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | February 14, 2011 4:30 PM | Report abuse

maybe we could Jesus to Baltimore. Wieters .249 sure didn't pan out.

Posted by: brianbu | February 14, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Flores injury:
They actually had him doing rehab starts in Harrisburg. They were going to recall him but he kept complaining of pain. He then finally had an MRI and went to see an orthopedist, 3 weeks after the original injury.

I think it is fair to say that the Nats botched his injury. There's no way of being 100% sure, but the practicing and rehab games could certainly have made his original injury worse.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 14, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Go Sus-ie Go!

Posted by: markfd | February 14, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Quality catchers who can hit are a rarity and should be valuable trade bait. If they can use any of them to bolster the rotation, fine with me. But if Flores is one of the guys they keep, let's make real sure that he's healthy.

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 14, 2011 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Flores was an outstanding catcher. It would take a lot from one of the other young guys before I gave up Flores.

Posted by: longbow1 | February 14, 2011 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Nats are checking that top 50 prospects list day and night - as we only ha one player on it - we need a corner outfielder that can give power w/ defense; probably a lead off center fielder; and a front line starting pitcher that can throw in the mid 90s or better; these are the things to shop for before we evr think about putting any of our catchers out there as bait. Teams with thin or no catching that will be hunting for a pennant - Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers all come to mind. What do they have that we need? That is the question. I think Flores may turn out to be our best of the three -

Posted by: artguydtd | February 15, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that the Nats botched Flores' shoulder injury. Most likely is that he was playing through the pain of a small labrum issue. Then he took the foul off of the collar bone, and during his rehab, while everyone was paying more attention to his shoulder, he probably revealed the labrum injury, thinking the pain of the labrum and stress fracture were the same.

But a foul tip off the shoulder doesn't cause a torn labrum.

Posted by: comish4lif | February 15, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

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