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Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Jesus Flores reflects on first spring training game

By Adam Kilgore

flores mask.jpg

Come this spring, when Jesus Flores squats behind home plate in a major league game, he expects to feel something. "During will the season will be different," Flores said. "It's going to feel like my first time, in 2007."

Yesterday, though, Flores felt the same. In the Nationals' first spring training game, he played catcher on a major league diamond for the first time since May 9, 2009, when a foul tip fractured his shoulder and started a cycle of excruciating injury, recovery and setbacks.

Surely, when Flores pinch-hit for Wilson Ramos in the fifth and then caught the rest of the game, it carried significance - "a milestone," Manager Jim Riggleman said. For Flores, it felt like another game. He had no extra nerves.

"It's still baseball," Flores said. "I feel that way. I just felt comfortable. I felt just great.

"I think with the injuries, I learned a lot of things. That's why when I talk about I feel like a stronger player, a smarter player, right now nothing is going to scare me more than being hurt and having shoulder surgery. I was just relaxed. I was trying to do my job and enjoy the moment.

"Even playing against the Mets, because it was my old team, nothing at all. I was just thinking about doing my job."

By Adam Kilgore  | March 1, 2011; 12:28 PM ET
 
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