Washington Nationals: Behind The Plate, Pt. 3. Will Jesus Flores Make It Back?

The Washington Nationals selected Jesus Flores with the 6th pick of the '06 Rule 5 Draft, "...under the recommendation of manager Manny Acta, Minor League manager John Stearns and Davey Johnson," the same Davey Johnson who is an Assistant to DC GM Mike Rizzo now, (and thinks Ian Desmond should just play one position) and was in 2006 employed by the former general manager as a scout, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's 12/7/06 article entitled, "Nats tab three in Rule 5 draft", where the then-DC GM Jim Bowden was quoted stating that, "Manny, Davey and John think of Flores as an everyday catcher in the big leagues someday." Oddly enough, the article mentions that Flores, then 22, had hit 32 doubles, 21 HR's and knocked in 71 RBI's in 120 games in A-ball in the Mets' system the previous season, in spite of the fact that he had an injured thumb...

Flores played the entire 2007 season with the Nationals, as required by the, uh, rules of the Rule 5 Draft, and though Washington signed two catchers before the '08 season in case Flores wasn't ready to play everyday at just 23 years of age, Flores beat out both Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada to become the starting backstop. Everything was working out nicely, even ahead of schedule in terms of Flores' development...

Then it happened...

9/2/08 - Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.:

"Third Inning...First and third, [Chase] Utley at third, [Jayson] Werth at first, two outs, Ryan Howard at bat, John Lannan on the mound, 2-0 Philly...Lannan turns and throws to first...and Utley breaks for home before the throw even leaves Lannan's hand...Belliard catches the ball and fires a strike to Jesus Flores at home...Flores blocks the plate...Utley lowers his shoulder and launches into the Nationals' catcher, who holds on to the ball, but has his ankle fold under the weight of the diving Utley, who lands right on Flores' left leg...Flores tries to stand, but crumbles...DC fans all sigh, as yet another injury befalls the '08 Nationals..."

An ankle sprain ended Flores' 2008 campaign. Flores recovered, however, and twenty-nine games into the 2009 season at 24-years-old the Venezuelan-born catcher was hitting .301 with a .371 OBP and a .505 SLG in 93 at bats over which he'd collected 3 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR's and 15 RBI's when on May 9th a foul ball struck Flores flush on the shoulder causing what was continually referred to as a shoulder contusion as he attempted to work his was through a rehab stint. Then on 5/30/09 MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote an article entitled, "Nats' Flores has setback with shoulder", which reported that the catcher would be traveling to Birmingham, Alabama where Dr. James Andrews was waiting to examine his shoulder. 

Several days later, Dr. Andrews discovered a stress fracture in Flores' right shoulder which would cost the catcher three months on the DL as Mr. Ladson reported in a follow-up article entitled, "Shoulder could end Flores' season", which quoted DC GM Mike Rizzo declaring, "It's a bad day for the organization. It's not a devastating injury. It's going to take time to heal. Once it heals, we should have him at 100 percent."

Jesus Flores worked hard enough rehabbing the shoulder that he was actually able to come back and make a few pinch hit appearances in the beginning of September, when suddenly Flores felt discomfort in his shoulder and another trip to Dr. Andrews revealed a torn right labrum which required a "SLAP repair surgery" according to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan who quoted Mr. Rizzo again lamenting the news while hopefully suggesting, "...He should be ready for the middle of spring training, worst-case scenario." While rehabbing from the labrum injury, Flores, in November, also underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow, setting the catcher back even further.

Jesus Flores told the new Nationals beat writer for the Washington Post Adam Kilgore that he didn't think he'd be able to play in the early games of Spring Training, and in fact, Mr. Flores, as quoted by Mr. Kilgore admitted, "'I don't see any opportunity to start Opening Day.'" The Washington Nationals have Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez to start the season as the starter with Wil Nieves as a backup for now. Derek Norris, the second-highest rated prospects on two of the more prominent lists released this winter is in camp with the Nationals. Will Jesus Flores be able to return to the lineup? Will there be a spot for him when he does? What does the future hold for Jesus Flores.

LINKS: 

 

• Washington Nationals and Houston Astros Suspended...DC In LA Tonight!! And Manny Acta Answers My Questions! - Federal Baseball

"A virtual Q&A with the Washington Nationals' Manager Manny Acta and some stuff to read while we wait for the west coast start..."

 

• Washington Nationals: Spring Training - Behind The Plate. - Federal Baseball - Ed Chigliak

• Washington Nationals: Spring Training - Behind The Plate Pt. 2. - Federal Baseball - Ed Chigliak

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