Estrada Receives Cortisone Shot; Status Uncertain

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 7, 2008

VIERA, Fla., March 6 -- Washington Nationals catcher Johnny Estrada received a cortisone shot in his right elbow Thursday, a development that further clouds the immediate future of the club's catching situation.

"I can't do anything, just run," Estrada said. "It stinks."

With presumed starter Paul Lo Duca coming back from knee surgery and slated to first appear in a game around March 15, Estrada's inability to play -- he hasn't thrown all-out during camp and hasn't come close to playing in a game -- could affect the Nationals' plans.

They are insisting, for now, that 23-year-old Jesús Flores will not serve as Lo Duca's backup if Estrada isn't ready by the March 30 opener, "unless Paul is not ready from the get-go to catch four or five times a week," Manager Manny Acta said.

"That doesn't mean we can't change our mind," Acta continued. "We reserve the right to do it. But we said all along . . . we don't want the kid to be playing twice, three times a week."

Flores, who hit .244 in 180 major league at-bats last year as Brian Schneider's backup, continues to be adamant about his approach.

"I want to show them that I'm good enough to be in the major leagues again," he said. "That's what I want."

Colome Returns

Reliever Jesús Colome returned from his native Dominican Republic, where he cleared up a visa issue. "I'm happy to be back, and I'm ready to pitch," Colome said.

Acta sounds like he is ready to use him.

"He's pretty much in our bullpen," Acta said. "He did a tremendous job for us last year."

At least for half the year. In 40 appearances before the all-star break, Colome went 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA. But in late June he went down with an infection in his right buttock, and when he returned in August, he wasn't the same. Colome went 1-1 with a 6.20 ERA in 21 appearances the rest of the way. . . .

First baseman Dmitri Young, out the past week with a strained left side, took grounders before Thursday night's rainout. He is scheduled to get some at-bats in a minor league game Saturday. If all goes well, he could appear in his first Grapefruit League game of the spring soon thereafter. . . .

Outfielder Rob Mackowiak, who hasn't played since aggravating his right side last Friday, got three at-bats in a minor league game Thursday and will get that again Friday before appearing in a major league game. . . .

Infielder Aaron Boone, working in minor league games as he recovers from a knee injury, is scheduled to make his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game Sunday against Cleveland.

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