Washington Nationals' Catcher Jesus Flores Headed to Dr. Andrews, Likely DL

Catcher Jesus Flores, rehabbing from off-season shoulder and elbow surgery, will visit noted shoulder expert Dr. James Andrews for 10 days or so to evaluate and receive treatment on his shoulder, which has not recovered according to the timetable team doctors laid out at the beginning of spring training.

Flores originally was diagnosed with a fracture in his shoulder, returned to play, then found out he had a torn labrum, which required extensive surgery.

He's returned to spring training, trying to build up the strength in the arm, but has not progressed past playing catch.  He has not been able to throw back to the pitchers while catching bullpen sessions.  And he has not taken batting practice.

All that leads up to another trip to Dr. Andrews.
According to reports, Flores will be evaluated and receive treatment, but no word at this point if another surgery will be required.  General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that he didn't think surgery would be required, but that Flores would receive individualized physical therapy and treatment from Dr. Andrews' staff.
None of this is good news for the 25-year old developing catcher, who was once thought of as the long-term answer at the position for the Nationals.

Unfortunately, his status is very much up in the air with the latest setback, and it is vitually certain Flores will start the season on the disabled list.

From MASN.com's Ben Goessling's blog post earlier today, manager Jim Riggleman discussed the situation.
"I don't see how (Flores) couldn't (start on the DL)," Riggleman said. "Ten days from now, we couldn't get him enough games to be ready for the season, no matter if he got back at the earliest."
For now, the Nats will head into the season with Ivan Rodriguez (.280 OBP in 2009) and Wil Nieves as the catching options.  The team re-signed Jamie Burke to catch at Triple-A Syracuse and should remain the emergency option should the Nats need another catcher for the time being.

It's a shame for Flores, and the team, that his shoulder has not responded adequately yet.  The team signed Rodriguez to be a part-time player to Flores' starter, and now that is in serious jeopardy.

Rodriguez was exposed last season when forced into a full-time gig with Houston.  While his batting average was not bottom of the barrel, his on base percentage was terrible.  For all the accolades he's received this spring from Nats management, players and coaches, he's a shell of the player that will no doubt be enshrined in Cooperstown five years after his exit from the game.

He might "bring a lot to the table" as far as presence and respect, but he brings little to the plate anymore when he steps into the batter's box.

Flores' injury, and slow recovery, is a big blow to the Nationals this season, and perhaps into the future after re-evaluation from Dr. Andrews.
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