The Washington Times - July 24, 2011, 09:31PM

LOS ANGELES — Three different times Dodger hitters reached base Sunday afternoon — twice via walks and once on a bunt single — and all three times they promptly stole second base.

With Jesus Flores making his fourth start behind the plate this season, the Dodgers wasted no time in testing out his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder and using good timing to jump early. Flores has now seen teams attempt to steal on him seven times since being recalled from Triple-A when Ivan Rodriguez went on the disabled list on July 7. They’ve been successful all seven times.

SEE RELATED:


“I’ve been struggling throwing to the bases,” Flores admitted. “The runners are taking good jumps on me and I think we’re not doing a very good job holding the runner. It’s making it tougher for me. Tougher, because I have to make perfect throws on the bases. It’s part of the game. Just keep working and hopefully it’ll change soon.”

Flores insists that his shoulder, which was operated on in 2009 and forced the Nationals one-time catcher of the future to go through a lengthy, sometimes trying, rehab process that forced him to miss all of the 2010 season while attempting to get healthy, is not an issue. It’s simply a learning process for him as he re-adjusts to not only the speed of the major league game but also the rhythm of not playing every day, as he was with Triple-A Syracuse.

“It’s tough,” Flores said. “I was down there playing every day and I need to make an adjustment now because it’s different. I feel good. I feel great, but at the same time, the timing and the rhythm when the game’s going on, I’ll have to look for a way to get used to it.”

For what it’s worth, manager Davey Johnson agreed that while Flores’ throwing shoulder does not look as strong as it once did years ago, the Dodgers were getting exceptional jumps on Sunday, meaning they had Jason Marquis’ timing down pretty well. However, Flores’ throws consistently bounced in front of second base. Johnson said Saturday that he expects Flores to work on strengthening the arm when he is not in the starting lineup with early work and that perhaps more so than playing every day, that will help to build it up.

The Nationals will need things to improve because with Rodriguez out for what is looking more and more to be an extended period of time with a right oblique strain, Flores will be relieving catcher Wilson Ramos roughly every third day. It’s an adjustment process for all involved.

“We’re still learning each other,” Marquis said. “He’s a guy that’s maybe been around somebody like (John) Lannan a little more than myself. Were just learning each other. Especially if Pudge is going to be out a little longer than we anticipated, everybody’s got to be on the same page.”

Sunday was only the second time ever that Flores had caught Marquis, which is a change after Marquis had been caught by Ramos in 11 games and Rodriguez in seven this season.

“Pitcher and catcher is always one guy,” Flores said. “If we’re not on the same page it’s going to be a little bit difficult to handle a game. With Jason and pretty much all the starters and relievers, it’s such a short time for me to get used to them again and know what they throw or what they like to throw in different counts. I’m trying to do my best to be on the same page with everyone. 

“When you catch every day and know the guy and I catch the guy all the time you think like him more in situations. He’s a good pitcher who obviously knows what he’s doing out there so you have to just go with it.”