Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flores stays sharp despite lack of ABs

US Presswire photo
Even when his bat shatters, Jesus Flores is recording base hits these days.
This isn't the first time Jesus Flores has been asked to serve as the Nationals' backup catcher. He did it as a rookie Rule 5 draft pick in 2007, and he did it again late last season.

It's no easy task, though, to keep your bat sharp when opportunities are few and far between, something Flores certainly experienced last year while hitting a scant .209 with one homer and two RBI over 91 plate appearances.

A year older and a year wiser, Flores seems to have figured out the trick to success as a backup. He's already produced six hits in 10 at-bats while matching his RBI output from 2011 as a whole.

"Last year, I was in the same page," he said. "Now I'm more mature and kind of became more experienced, so I kind of learned to get to know myself better. I just keep doing my drills and all that stuff to keep my swing in check, and that's why I've been [more] successful in the last games."

Flores started three of the Nationals' first nine games, giving starter Wilson Ramos two days off in New York last week and then another breather yesterday following a 13-inning marathon the previous night.

The Nationals certainly didn't suffer any drop in offensive production with Flores behind the plate instead of Ramos. The 27-year-old went 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI during yesterday's victory.

"I'm feeling good at the plate," he said. "Right now, I'm just being patient and I'm swinging at good pitches."

It's been a welcome sight for the Nationals, who three years ago fully expected Flores to blossom into their long-term catching answer, until a major shoulder injury derailed his career. They acquired Ramos from the Twins at the 2010 trade deadline, and even though Flores made a full recovery from the shoulder injury, it was too late to re-establish his standing as the club's starting catcher.

Manager Davey Johnson, who was among those who recommended taking Flores in the Rule 5 draft to then-general manager Jim Bowden, insists he never doubted the young catcher could revert to his pre-injury form. It just took time and patience.

"I saw improvement from the start of [last] year to the end of the year, in every aspect of his game," Johnson said. "And then going to winter ball, he tore it up. And he had a great spring. He's throwing better. He's more in command on both sides of the dish. He calls a good game. I've said before: It's a luxury to have two No. 1 catchers."

Flores did experience a brief scare yesterday when he collided with Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco on a fourth-inning play at the plate. He remained on the ground for several seconds and then appeared to limp off the field.

Turns out Flores slammed his right knee into Mesoraco's shin guard, leaving a nasty cut. But he returned to his position behind the plate the following inning and insisted he was fine after the game.

"I went knee-to-knee, hit the shin guard, and he kind of hurt me on my right knee," Flores said. "I think I should've slid a different way, but it was too late when I did it. ... It was sore at the moment, but I'm great now. I'm good."

10 comments:

UNTERP said...

Prior to his injury Jesus was my favorite player. One word comes to mind about Flores: clutch. Davey might have to make a decision of playing Ramos 2 games Flores 1 game every three games down the road. He hits...

sjm308 said...

UNterp

agree with that - they are both #1 catchers and we should keep them both fresh - key to whatever rotation Davey uses is communication between the manager and players - I would bring them both in, let them know how happy I am with both and let them know what the plan is for the remainder of the season. 6 starters (when Wang returns) and 2 #1 catchers, who would have ever thought it??

Go Nats!!

Mary in Springfield said...

I recall hearing that during his rookie year Jesus's English language was limited, and that during his recovery from surgery he devoted a lot of time and effort to improving his English.

I like both he and Ramos and it will be good to have both of them on the roster. Looking forward to a great Nats season!!

Section 3, My PFB Sofa said...

Catchers do not feel pain, no matter how much it hurts.

Theophilus said...

Happy w/ both catchers. Greedy enuf to want to keep 'em both. Can't remember a team with similar good fortune since the Howard-Berra Yankees. Sort of like having two Molinas who can hit.

Anonymous said...

to be honest im tired of seeing ramos get beat by fastballs,flores should play agianst the hard throwers and ramos agianst the junk throwers.

sm13 said...

Another area where the Nats have a surplus of talent. How many teams carry two number 1 catchers?

Hanging On said...

Ramos is not playing, especially hitting like a #1 catcher. I'd take Flores bat 5 days a week.

NatsFanJim said...

Flores was showing signs of stardom before he got hurt. Now that he is fully recovered, it is painfully obvious that he is better than Ramos.

Time to make a change. Flores to start; ramos to sub.

natsfan1a said...

I love our catchers. That is all. :-)

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