Nats waiting on Flores, Brown searching for first big league hit

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Tonight marks the third straight game that Jesus Flores will watch from the bench, with rookie catcher Sandy Leon taking over behind the plate.

Leon's major league tenure has gotten off to a nice start, as he's hitting .385 in 13 at-bats. But the Nationals are looking forward to getting Flores back in the starting lineup once his back tightness has subsided.

Manager Davey Johnson said today that he'll still play things carefully with Flores, wanting to make sure that the catcher can make it through a full nine innings before he ends up starting again.

"For him to get back in the lineup, I have to make sure that he can go through batting practice," Johnson said. "He did hit Sunday. But if he can go through batting practice and his back doesn't stiffen up, I'll put him back in the lineup. But I don't want to have a situation where he starts the game and has to come out like he did Friday."

Corey Brown is back with the Nationals after spending a short stretch with the team earlier this season. Johnson said the 26-year-old outfielder, who was called up today to replace Ian Desmond on the active roster, will serve mostly as a guy who can come in as part of a double-switch late in ballgames.

Brown notched his first career major league RBI earlier this season when he brought in a run on a squeeze against the Marlins, but after starting out 0-for-7 in the bigs, he's still looking for his first hit.

"It's definitely exciting to get called up and be a part of a team that's been doing so well all year," Brown said. "Obviously they're in first place. But it's an honor to be able to be a part of it now, and hopefully I can be here the whole year and help in some way. If not, I'm sure I can be in the mix at some point. But whenever I get in, I just want to try to contribute as much as possible."

While Brown is unlikely to get any starts in the outfield for the time being, Johnson will continue to give Tyler Moore starts against lefties. The right-handed-hitting Moore will platoon with Roger Bernadina, who takes his hacks from the left side.

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