MIAMI -- Jesus Flores says his right hamstring is feeling "much better" today than it did last night when the Nationals catcher had to depart his team's game in Atlanta while running the bases.
Flores is not in the Nationals' lineup today against the Marlins, but he's hoping he could return to play tomorrow night. Manager Davey Johnson, though, says he'll take a more cautious route and would play backup Carlos Maldonado for this entire series if needed to ensure Flores is totally healed for the long haul.
"He was feeling a lot better today, but I'll monitor that closely because of how many catchers we've had go down here," Johnson said. "I don't need another one going down, even if I have to hold him out until Friday. So that'll be played daily."
The Nationals have already lost starting catcher Wilson Ramos for the season with a torn ACL. Rookie Sandy Leon, summoned from Class AA Harrisburg to take Ramos' roster spot, landed on the disabled list himself after suffering a high ankle sprain in his big-league debut.
For now, the Nationals are content to proceed with Maldonado as their only healthy catcher and utilityman Steve Lombardozzi available in case of emergency. Johnson did say they would call upon Jhonatan Solano (recently activated off the DL at Class AAA Syracuse) if they needed another catcher.
Left fielder Michael Morse, meanwhile, could be back in the Nationals' lineup by the end of the week. Morse, out since early March with a torn right lat muscle, will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac tomorrow night. If all goes well, he could come off the DL Friday in time for the start of the Nationals' six-game homestand.
"We'll be cautious on it," Johnson said. "And it'll come from the guys that are watching him down there and the conversations with Michael Morse on how he's feeling down there."