Catcher Jesus Flores expects to return from a mild right hamstring strain in a matter of days and remains unworried about a potential stint on the disabled list. “That’s how I feel right now,” Flores said. Flores had become the Nationals’ starter with Wilson Ramos out for the season.
“He was feeling a lot better today, but I’ll monitor that closely because of how many catchers we’ve had go down here,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t need another one going down, even if I have to hold him out until Friday. So that’ll be played daily.”
The Nationals had planned to rest Flores today, anyway, in favor of sturdy, long-time minor leaguer Carlos Maldonado. He has played 1,184 minor league games over 17 seasons, and today he will make his 19th major league start.
“I think he’s big enough to maybe not have any little injuries,” Johnson said.
In the event Flores missed extended time, the Nationals would turn to Class AAA catcher Jhonatan Solano, who recently returned from his own injury. He is “just a phone call away,” Johnson said.
Johnson will likely stay away from Flores today even if Maldonado needs to come out of the game. In the event of an emergency, Steve Lombardozzi would go behind the plate – something Johnson has still not broached with the utility man, an infield by trade.
The Nationals never gave any thought to using Bryce Harper as an emergency catcher, though Harper did catch in high school and at junior college. “Harper came to somebody last night and said, ‘Am I the next guy to catch?’ ” Johnson said. “I said: ‘I don’t think so.’ ”
Sunday night, Tyler Moore warmed up the pitcher between innings. Johnson sent him out because Moore, a Mississippi native, had roughly 40 friends and family members in attendance at Turner Field.