In a surprising move, the Nationals have recalled catcher Jesus Flores from Triple-A Syracuse, a source confirmed, to fill the spot on the 25-man roster vacated when Ryan Zimmerman was put on the 15-day disabled list with an abdominal strain.
The decision to bring up Flores gives the Nationals another right-handed hitter off the bench, which they are short on with their current configuration, and allows them to use either Ivan Rodriguez or Wilson Ramos as a pinch hitter without using their last catcher.
It also means that Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora will now share time as the team’s primary third basemen. The two veteran utility men have played 67 career games at third base, but Cora has played just 12 and Hairston has played 55 there.
The Washington Post was the first to report Flores’ promotion.
Flores hasn’t been in the major leagues since 2009, rehabbing from significant surgery on his throwing shoulder. He was back in major league spring training this year — a milestone for the catcher who, at one point, felt he’d never play again — but was beat out for the two catcher’s slots by Rodriguez and Ramos.
Flores is 2-for-13 in four games with Triple-A Syracuse this year, hitting a double and driving in one run so far.
When the Nationals placed Zimmerman on the DL on Monday, the Nationals were debating among two or three candidates to fill his roster spot, a source said at the time. The most likely candidates were Brian Bixler, a utility infielder who had a solid spring and is hitting .304 in five games with Triple-A this season, with a .385 on-base percentage, or outfielder Roger Bernadina.
It was unlikely, however, that the Nationals call up Bernadina because he has yet to play in a game at Triple-A, having been away from the team since the start of the season due to a family issue.