Add another setback to Nationals catcher Jesus Flores' increasingly lengthy injury history. Flores is headed to Birmingham, Ala., to spend 10-14 days with Dr. James Andrews' staff for evaluation and treatment of his surgically repaired shoulder, manager Jim Riggleman said.
It all but guarantees Flores will start the season on the disabled list, which is where he spent most of last season. The catcher first sustained a fractured shoulder in May when a foul ball hit him and was set to come back from that in September when a subsequent MRI found a torn labrum. Flores had surgery to repair the injury in September, and while the Nationals were cautiously optimistic he would be ready for the start of the regular season, they signed Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million deal in case Flores wasn't ready.
Now, it appears Rodriguez will start the season as the Nationals' everyday catcher.
"I don't see how (Flores) couldn't (start on the DL)," Riggleman said. "Ten days from now, we couldn't get him enough games to be ready for the season, no matter if he got back at the earliest."
General manager Mike Rizzo said Andrews found no further deterioration in Flores' labrum and said there is no further risk of injury. But Rizzo said the shoulder "did bark on him," so he's being shut down from his throwing program, which had only allowed him to play catch from 90-120 feet so far. He will have to start from scratch once he returns from physical therapy.
Because the Nationals have so many players rehabbing, Rizzo said the Nationals wanted to send Flores to Andrews so he could get the "individual, focused" attention he needs.
It's too early to tell if the latest setback is a sign his shoulder will never be strong enough to play in the majors consistently. But for now, the Nationals are again stuck waiting on their 25-year-old catcher.
"There's going to be a number of players around baseball who just don't respond to the surgery as hoped, and so far, he hasn't," Riggleman said. "I don't think it's re-injury. I think it just hasn't recovered as well as he would like and the trainers would like from whatever was done."