By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Jesús Flores will miss at least three months and possibly the rest of the season after further evaluation of his injured shoulder revealed a stress fracture of the acromion bone.
Flores was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 15, and the Nationals had suspected a quick return for the young catcher. He aggravated the injury late last week while rehabbing with Class AA Harrisburg. Flores was sent to orthopedist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., for consultation when the stress fracture was discovered.
"It's a bad day for the organization, but it's not a devastating injury," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It's going to take time to heal, and once it heals, we should have him at full go and at 100 percent. But it takes a big chunk out of his season, and he's obviously an integral player for us and one of the real bright, young catching prospects in the game."
Flores did not know specifically when the injury occurred, although it happened sometime during his rehab stint. Flores slouched by his locker in the clubhouse with a sling on his right shoulder, as despondent as a 24-year-old would be after learning that his season could be in jeopardy.
"It wasn't a good phase or a good feeling for me," Flores said. "It's tough for me to handle this, because I think I'm a pretty healthy guy, so when this thing happens to you, it's not what you can control."
Flores was in the early stages of an impressive third season. He batted .311 in 26 games before the initial injury and was a critical batterymate for the Nationals' young pitching staff.
Flores will not require surgery. The bone, which forms the highest point of the shoulder, will heal on its own, although it will take six to 12 weeks before Flores is pain free, according to medical director Wiemi Douoguih. At that point, Flores can start rehabbing the shoulder. In between, Flores must maintain the rest of his body.
Rizzo said the Nationals do not plan to make a move to fortify the catcher spot. Instead, Washington will rely on the combination of Wil Nieves and Josh Bard.
"They're not going to give you the productivity of Jesús," Rizzo said, "but we're satisfied with the guys that we got."Dukes Activated
Outfielder Elijah Dukes was activated from the 15-day disabled list and started last night's game in right field.
Dukes took the roster spot of right-handed reliever Kip Wells, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 31 with a right adductor strain.
Shortstop Cristian Guzmán returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sore thumb. Outfielder Josh Willingham was held out of the lineup because of a stomach virus.