Washington Nationals Put Flores on DL

By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 16, 2009

With an 11-game homestand during a 10-day period, the Washington Nationals took further actions to reshape a struggling bullpen and add another option at catcher, where starter Jesús Flores has missed the last four games with a bruised right shoulder. Flores still cannot swing or throw, preventing him from participating in today's day-night doubleheader.

That was one of the primary reasons why the Nationals placed Flores on the 15-day disabled yesterday, retroactive to May 10. The Nationals recalled catcher Josh Bard from Class AAA Syracuse to take Flores's place. They also selected the contract of right-handed reliever Jesús Colome from Syracuse and designated Logan Kensing for assignment.

In an unrelated move, reliever Mike Hinckley elected to become a free agent after clearing waivers.

Flores's absence alters the Nationals lineup. The 24-year-old is batting .311 and recorded a hit in eight consecutive starts.

"Obviously he's a big part of the club," Manager Manny Acta said, "but it's not going to be a long-term type of thing."

Acta said Flores would be ready to play once the 15 days expire. There is no immediate timetable on Flores's recovery, but Acta could not leave the Nationals with only one healthy catcher entering the homestand -- especially when he must field a lineup for two games today.

"There's no way I can throw the ball to the bases as hard as I can and I can't swing the bat yet," Flores said. "Altogether, it was a good decision to give me the time to come back."

Wil Nieves batted 7 for 17 and excelled behind the plate in Flores's place during the last four games. He will split time with Bard, who played seven games with the Nationals last month before he was optioned to Syracuse on April 20.

Colome will join the Nationals' inconsistent bullpen as a middle reliever. He finished with a 2.25 ERA in 31 appearances with Washington last season, and Acta lauded his experience. Acta said Kensing struggled because he too frequently pitched behind in counts since he was acquired on April 29, but the manager was still impressed with Kensing's arm and hoped the right-handed reliever clears waivers and rejoins the organization.

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