Nearly 90 minutes before the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Marlins, the Nationals announced a trade that sent minor league catcher David Freitas to the Oakland Athletics for veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki, who will take over the starting role from Jesus Flores.
Approached by reporters and asked about the trade following the doubleheader split, Flores said he didn’t know about the trade and that he hadn’t had a conversation about it with team officials.
Once reporters shared the news and asked for a comment, Flores said: “Not at all. I don’t even want to talk about it. I’m just in shock. I didn’t know we had a new catcher.”
It seems difficult to believe that Flores didn’t know about the trade. But he appeared shaken when asked about it. Understandably, it’s a difficult time for Flores, whose future with the organization beyond this season appears to be in question. He is eligible for arbitration this winter.
Earlier this season, when he was spelling catcher Wilson Ramos and playing every few days, Flores performed better. He went 6 for 25 (.240) in nine games in April and 15 for 55 (.273) in 17 games in May. After Ramos went down to a major knee injury in early May and the season wore on, Flores appeared to wear down.
He played through a sore back and recently scuffled at the plate, enough to have Johnson squeeze in more days off for him to rest and relax. Flores has helped guid the Nationals’ pitching staff to the lowest earned run average in baseball. But overall, he is hitting .221 with three home runs and 18 RBI. He has thrown out only 5 of 49 base stealers, though some of that is the fault of Nationals pitchers who struggle to hold runners.
Flores has played in 66 games already this season, the most he has played since 2008. He missed the entire 2010 season, and parts of the previous season, with a torn labrum and surgery.
With Suzuki in the fold, Flores may benefit. Surely it is difficult to lose playing time but it may allow Flores to rest and perform like he did earlier in the season.
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