In the most important sense to Jesus Flores, 2011 was “a very positive year,” he said. He stayed healthy. He proved himself a major league catcher. After he missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, simply playing felt like a success.
But he also could not help feeingl frustration. When he injured his shoulder in 2009, Flores was 24, the unquestioned future catcher for the Nationals. When this year ended, Flores was 27 and a clear second choice behind Wilson Ramos.
“It was great just to make my comeback, to be on the field again and start. I didn’t have a really great spring training with numbers. But physically, I was seeing myself improving. I was healthy. My shoulder was coming along. I started the season in Triple A, just getting used to the everyday playing. When I got called up, I could see that everything wasn’t the way I was used to it before.”
In 91 major league plate appearances this year, Flores hit .209/.253/.314 with one home run, having to adjust to scant playing time. From his call-up in early July, Flores started only 19 games. Tuesday, he expressed frustration on his Twitter account in regard to his dearth of playing time.
“It was an adjustment,” Flores said. “I had to adapt to the situation. I’m still 27. I’m in good shape. I still have a lot of talent to be a No. 1 catcher.”
Flores’s feelings may shape his future with the Nationals. The Nationals have a deep stable of minor league catchers from which to choose a backup to Ramos, and they could also re-sign Ivan Rodriguez if he cannot find a team in free agency willing to offer him more playing time.
Wednesday, Flores sounded like a player who may want to continue his career elsewhere. He was not biter or angry, just not content.
“I don’t know,” Flores said. “It’s hard to answer that right now. Wilson is having a great year. I’m happy for such a good kid. He’s kind of the same position I was before I got hurt, and he’s taken advantage. That’s good. But I will keep working and preparing to be the No. 1. I just want to play.”