For more than two weeks, since he returned to the Nationals, Jesus Flores has been trying to adjust to his new job. He is playing infrequently for the first time, once every three games, at most, as Wilson Ramos’s backup. It’s not going well so far, he knows, but it’s not going to change.
With Ivan Rodriguez set to spend about three more weeks on the disabled list, Flores will be the Nationals’ backup catcher. In four starts and a few pinch-hit appearances, Flores is 2 for 16 with a double. Sunday, he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. Behind the plate, three Dodgers tried to steal second against him, and they all made it.
“It’s tough, you know?” Flores said. “I was down there, playing every day. I need to make an adjustment now, because it’s different. I feel great, but at the same time, the timing and the rhythm while the game is going on, I have to look for a way to get used to it.”
The prevailing context for Flores continues to be his balky right shoulder. He missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 after tearing his labrum. On Friday, Manager Davey Johnson expressed concern about the strength of his throwing arm.
Sunday, the Dodgers tested it. They stole all three times they attempted. Flores was not the only one at fault, maybe not even the primary person to blame. “They got pretty good jumps,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He really didn’t have much chance on those steals.”
Still, Flores has made four starts since he returned July 8. Opponents have stolen successfully all seven times they’ve attempted to steal against him.
“I know I’ve been struggling throwing to the bases,” Flores said. “The runners, obviously, have been taking good jumps on me. We’re not doing good holding the runners, and that’s kind of making it tougher for me. I have to make perfect throws. I think it’s part of the game. I’ll keep on working. Hopefully, it changes soon.”
Flores has also been adjusting to calling games for pitchers he is unfamiliar with. From the staff Flores handled in the opening month-plus in 2009, only John Lannan and Jordan Zimmermann remain.
“Pitcher and catcher is always one guy,” Flores said. “If we’re not on the same page, it’s going to be difficult to handle a game. All of the starters and the relievers, it’s such a short time for me to get used to them and know what they throw, what they like to throw. I’m going to do my best to be on the same page with everyone, because pitcher-catcher is a very important part of the game.”
It has been a difficult three years for Flores, from dealing with the injury to rehab to accepting a minor-league life. Even back in the majors, it isn’t getting much easier for him.
FROM THE POST
The Nationals ended a subpar road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers in which they made 27 straight outs without a hit.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 7, Syracuse 2: Chien-Ming Wang allowed five runs in five innings on eight hits and a walk, striking out five. Stephen Lombardozzi went 0 for 2 with two walks. Tug Hulett went 2 for 4 with a home run.
Richmond 4, Harrisburg 1 (Game 1): Bryce Harper did not play. Johs Johnson went 1 for 3.
Richmond 7, Harrisburg 5 (Game 2): Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 with a double, his first extra-base hit at Class AA. Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk. Derek Norris went 2 for 4.
Potomac 6, Winston-Salem 3: Destin Hood went 3 for 3 with two walks. Francisco Soriano went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Jeff Kobernus went 3 for 5 with a double.
Hagerstown 7, Greenville 2: Matt Grace took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He allowed no runs in 6 1/3 innings on one hit and two walks, striking out three. Michael Taylor went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk. Russell Moldenhauer went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.
Auburn 8, Lowell 4: Adrian Nieto went 3 for 4 with a walk. Justin Miller went 2 for 4 with a triple and a walk. Jeremy Mayo went 2 for 3 with a home run.