The Washington Times - August 1, 2011, 07:17PM

Sunday afternoon, while most eyes were glued to the Nationals bullpen before the 4 p.m. trade deadline to see if there was any stirring before the ninth inning from Drew Storen, Jesus Flores garnered some attention of his own.

Flores, who is less than two years removed from significant right shoulder surgery, caught both Willie Harris and the exceptionally speedy Jose Reyes attempting to steal second on Sunday. It was just a week after three different Los Angeles Dodgers stole bases off of Flores and his throwing arm looked weak.

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Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Flores’ release Sunday was clocked under two seconds.

“A couple times he’s not made real strong throws down there,” Johnson said. “He’s been working hard. Those throws the other day, both of them were under two seconds, which is outstanding. He’s got tremendous release.”

Flores has been working on his throws, out often for early work and making throws to second repetitively on days he is not starting and catcher Wilson Ramos is. Flores had been 1-for-8 in stolen base attempts before he threw out Harris and Reyes on Sunday. 

“This has been a good situation for him, playing behind Ramos,” Johnson said. “He’s done early work outs, he’s thrown to second base, sometimes when you go through something as severe as he had, it’s trusting it and feeling like you can push it a little bit and make it stronger. The tendency sometimes when it’s not hurting is ‘Maybe I better just not push it.’”

– The Nationals are currently carrying 13 pitchers on their staff, a high number for any team, with eight relievers right now. That will change shortly as Atahualpa Severino is expected to be optioned back to the minor leagues sometime this week, but even with or without him, the bullpen doesn’t quite lineup the way Johnson would like.

What he’s looking for, ideally, would be two or three guys who are capable of throwing two-plus innings as insurance for a starter who, at the last minute, can’t make a start or needs to be pulled in short order (whether due to ineffectiveness or injury). 

“The way we’re structured right now, I don’t like it but I need an extra arm out there,” Johnson said. “Severino doesn’t fill the bill for what I’m looking for. It’s OK against (Atlanta), but ideally I’d like to have someone out there for a spot start who can give me innings in case something happens in warmup or early in the ballgame.

“I’m sitting over here nervous. I don’t have the innings to get to my bullpen and basically, since I’ve been here, had one long guy and the rest are basically one or two inning guys and that’s stretching it. I’m not comfortable. We’re addressing that right now.” 

Johnson said several relievers have asked for two and three days off because of the workload that’s been placed on them — needing to be used for two and three innings when they’re more used to one.

“This staff did an unbelievable job from the first half of the year and I was worried about them from afar,” Johnson said. “They dodged a lot of bullets. As soon as I get here, all the things I’ve been worried about start happening. That’s usually the way it goes.” 

– The Braves, with new center fielder Michael Bourn in tow, pulled a card out of the Nationals’ past today when they released a lineup with the pitcher, Jair Jurrjens, hitting eighth. Brought back some memories of former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, who made the somewhat controversial move himself in his final 11 games at the Nationals’ helm.