The Nationals placed catcher Ivan Rodriguez on the disabled list with a right oblique strain this afternoon and recalled catcher Jesus Flores from Triple-A to take his spot on the active roster.
Rodriguez, who injured the oblique during batting practice on Thursday, was not optimistic Thursday night that he’d be able to avoid a disabled list stint and neither was his manager, Davey Johnson.
“Any time he leaves batting practice and runs in here and takes off his uniform, I know it was pretty bad,” Johnson said. “I didn’t need to hear a doctor’s report to know it was pretty bad.”
The oblique is a difficult area for healing and can be aggravated easily if not fully healed but both Johnson and Rodriguez seemed encouraged on Friday that the strain was not a significant one. As of now, because of the All-Star break, Rodriguez would be eligible to return from the disabled list on July 22 when the team opens a three-game series in Los Angeles and would only miss a minimum of nine games.
“As a player, you don’t want these kinds of things,” Rodriguez said. “But at the same time, it just is an injury that I’ve never had before. The good thing is, it’s not that big. It’s not that bad. I sat down with Davey, and we decided that the best thing is just to shut it down for a little bit.
“I’m going to keep myself in shape. They told me that I can still do my workout, unless in any of the workout I feel the abs. I feel that’s the best thing to do, and for the next (nine games) I’ll be a cheerleader in the dugout.”
Rodriguez said he worked out this morning, a little lighter than his usual routine, but felt that because he stopped his batting practice immediately after feeling the tightness he may have avoided further damage.
“When it happened to me, I stopped right away,” he said. “I didn’t continue playing. I talked to some other teammates that it happened [to] before, and they told me that it’s a serious injury. It takes awhile to heal. I’m glad that I got it quick. I just stopped hitting right there and went to treatment. It’s a mild oblique injury - that’s a good thing. It’s just a matter of working out and getting the treatment that I need to get done and do the things that I do physically. I’ll be fine.”
Johnson said the plan right now is for Flores to play as close to every third day as possible, keeping him on a similar schedule to the one Johnson was implementing with Rodriguez and starter Wilson Ramos.
Johnson was actually integral in scouting Flores for the Nationals. Around the trade deadline in 2006, Johnson was scouting minor leaguers for then-GM Jim Bowden in the Florida area and he recommended Flores to Bowden. The Nationals didn’t make a trade for him then but the Mets then left him unprotected in the 2006 Rule 5 draft and Washington scooped him up.
“I saw two at-bats,” Johnson said. “The first time I saw him hit there was a runner on third base, one out, the guy had a 94 mile an hour fastball and a good curveball and he was having some problems with the other hitters in the lineup.
“Threw him a good curveball and he hit a long fly ball to right center, got the runner in. Next time up, tried to run a fastball in and he hit a double to left field. That was all I needed to see. He was swinging at strikes and he hit it where it was pitched.”
After missing all of 2010 with a shoulder injury, he’s been working his way back to full form and has spent most of this year with Triple-A Syracuse, particularly building up the arm strength in his throwing shoulder.
“He’s always had great footwork and a quick release and he’s very accurate,” Johnson said. “That kind of injury, that severe, probably total arm strength coming back takes a long time but he’s on the right path and (Syracuse manager) Randy Knorr’s high on him and I’ve always been high on him. It’s good to have him. I’m sure Alex Cora and Brian Bixler are real glad he’s here too. They were my backups.”
Flores hit .234 with 15 doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI in 56 games with Syracuse this season.