Ten days and just two at-bats after they brought him back to the majors, the Nationals optioned catcher Jesus Flores to Class AAA Syracuse this afternoon. The most likely candidate to replace Flores is Syracuse utility infielder Brian Bixler, who impressed the Nationals during spring training and has hit .326 in 14 games for Syracuse.
Bixler left Syracuse’s game for a pinch-hitter today in the fourth inning, and he did not travel with the team from Pawtucket. If the Nationals do promote Bixler, they will need to add him to the 40-man roster and remove a player. One candidate would be right-handed pitcher Garrett Mock, who this year has a 9.53 ERA and 17 walks in 11 1/3 innings.
The Nationals decided to send Flores back to Syracuse because they quickly realized they had little use for a third right-handed catcher behind Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez.
“We’re carrying three catchers, and we just don’t really think it’s doing Jesus much good here,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “We were looking at, ‘Let’s just get a right-handed bat here.’ The opportunities and the need are not arising that often. We need to get him back down there playing.”
During his brief tenure, Flores collected his first hit since May 9, 2009, a pinch-hit single April 14 that marked his return after battling an excruciating series of shoulder injuries. But he did not play again until today, when he struck out.