Jesus Flores & others react to Kurt Suzuki acquisition

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There was a somewhat unfortunate scene in the Nationals’ clubhouse after Friday night’s doubleheader when reporters approached Jesus Flores to get his reaction on the Nationals’ latest acquisition, catcher Kurt Suzuki, who is expected to become the team’s primary receiver. 

Flores, who has assumed the starting catcher’s role since Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee in May, said he was unaware that the team had made the trade.

“I didn’t know,” Flores said. “I just know because you told me. Nobody has told me anything.

“Nobody has say anything to me about it, so I’m just surprised.”

Obviously without much time to digest the news, Flores couldn’t provide much reaction to the obvious consequences it seems to have for him. Flores has waited a long time to have an opportunity to be the Nationals’ everyday catcher so it’s understandable if he’s disappointed by the move but the Nationals felt they needed a bit more of a veteran presence behind the plate.

It’s unclear whether or not any of that was communicated to him, though.

“I don’t even want to talk about it,” Flores said. “I’m just in shock. I didn’t know we had a new catcher.”

– The Nationals will have to make a 25-man roster move on Saturday in order to clear space for Suzuki on the roster. It’s highly likely that Sandy Leon will be optioned back to the minor leagues to make that space.

Leon is highly thought of within the Nationals’ organization and has performed admirably well in his second stint in the majors this season. After his first one ended after only three innings, his second turn on the big league roster has gone fairly well, particularly offensively.

But the Nationals do view him as a prospect and were it not for injury, Leon likely would have remained in the minors all season to continue developing so if he’s sent back down now, that’s what he’ll get an opportunity to do.

– One member of the Nationals’ starting rotation was already excited for the arrival of Suzuki, former teammate Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who spent the first four years of his career in Oakland, tweeted out his excitement earlier in the day and, after his start on Friday, expressed some more of his feelings about Suzuki.

“He’s a good guy,” Gonzalez said. “Great teammate of mine when I was with Oakland so hopefully he brings some positive vibes over here.”

Asked specifically about Suzuki’s abilities as a game caller and defensive catcher, Gonzalez added: “He’s aggressive behind the plate. He’s definitely going to bring some attitude back there, in a good way. He’s going to keep your pitcher on their toes, constantly get ‘em and go. He was taught by the best and you’re going to see, he’s going to bring some positive stuff over here.”

– A few of the Nationals players said they’d only recently heard the news of Suzuki’s acquisition so not too many had much reaction but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman did offer this:

“I don’t know too much about him,” Zimmerman said. “Supposedly he’s a real good defensive catcher and he’s been around a while, so he’ll be able to handle a staff like this and hopefully help the young guys learn some things.

“The guys we’ve had here have done well all year, but this guy is a guy that’s supposed to be really good defensively. Hopefully he’ll hit a little bit and help us, but I think the main focus for him is to deal with the pitching staff and throw some guys out and be a good defensive catcher.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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