Nationals Notebook

Nationals' Jesus Flores Continues to Wait Out His Injury

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Since Jesús Flores last appeared with the Washington Nationals, on May 9, his upper body has gotten weaker, his vocabulary has gotten larger, and his sanity -- on account of stir-craziness -- has just about disappeared.

Out with a stress fracture in his right shoulder, Washington's 24-year-old catcher still hasn't been cleared to rehabilitate, though that could come if an MRI exam in three weeks shows that the fracture is fully healed. Meantime, Flores is hanging around Nationals Park, waiting, watching and growing restless.

"Oh man, I'm going crazy," Flores said. "I mean, I don't know what to do. I just come here to the stadium to try to spend time watching the game, talking to the guys, going back home. Like, thinking about it every day. It's tough. I don't really like it, because I don't feel like I'm doing anything."

Though Washington hasn't ruled out Flores's return this season, Flores acknowledges that his year is probably over. Since his mid-May injury, he has been prohibited from upper body lifting; thus, he's lost plenty of muscle. Ideally, Flores said, he'll spend the offseason back home in Venezuela playing winter ball and return for spring training in 2010.

So far, Flores has found only one benefit to all the down time. He's paying a tutor for twice-a-week English lessons. Flores, on Tuesday, reached into his locker and pulled out a book, "Conversando En Ingles."

"That's what I've been doing all this time," Flores said, laughing. "I'm an American now, man."

Martin to Get Another Shot

With Scott Olsen out for the season because of a small tear in his left labrum, the Nationals have a hole in their pitching rotation. Though J.D. Martin, in his major league debut on Monday, lasted only four innings, the 26-year-old will get at least another shot to earn the more permanent spot as Olsen's fill-in.

"We hope that J.D. will stay," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "J.D.'s performance will dictate that, but I liked what he did last night. I thought he settled down."

If Martin can settle into the spot, that will help alleviate some of the organization's concerns about how to handle its pitching staff in the coming months. With several rookies due to hit their season limits for innings by September, Washington needs to find a suitable cadre of starters as replacements. Originally, Olsen -- along with John Lannan -- was in the group that was being counted on to last the whole season.

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