ST. LOUIS — The Nationals optioned catcher Jesus Flores back to Triple-A Syracuse after their 5-0 loss to the Cardinals this afternoon, ending the catcher’s 10-day stay with the major league team.
A corresponding roster move is expected to be announced on Friday before the team’s game against Pittsburgh.
Flores, who was 1-for-2 in his brief stint, was called up when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list with an abdominal strain to serve as another right-handed bat of the bench. But with Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez splitting the catching duties equally, Flores simply wasn’t getting enough playing time.
The Nationals feel Flores would be better served getting consistent playing time every day at the Triple-A level.
“We’re carrying three catchers and we just don’t really think it’s doing Jesus much good,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “I’m not getting him any time here with Pudge and Ramos doing all the catching. We had Zim down, which we still do, and we were looking at, ‘Let’s just get a right-handed bat here,’ but the opportunities and the need were not arising that often. We need to get him back down there playing.”
As far as who will be called up to take his place, Triple-A infielder Brian Bixler was pulled from the team’s game against Pawtucket in the fourth inning and the move was reportedly not injury related. Bixler is having a very good start to the year in Triple-A, hitting .326 with a .483 on-base percentage in 14 games but is not currently on the 40-man roster so calling him up would necessitate moving someone off the 40-man.
That said, the Nationals do have players they could move off the 40-man roster (like pitcher Garrett Mock) that wouldn’t hurt them too much.
The Nationals will also need to call a player up sometime soon when shortstop Ian Desmond takes paternity leave for the birth of his son, which is expected to happen any day now. If Bixler was up already, it would allow the Nationals to use that roster spot for the 1-3 days Desmond is gone to carry an extra pitcher or outfielder as well.
It’s going to be a busy weekend for the Nationals regardless with Todd Coffey also set to come off the disabled list on Sunday as long as his fielding practice goes well Friday and his left calf strain doesn’t cause him any problems fielding the ball off the mound.