ATLANTA — The last thing the Washington Nationals wanted to see occurred in the seventh inning Sunday night: Jesus Flores walking off the field with a trainer.
It appears, though, that the Nationals may have dodged a bullet this time. Flores was pulled with a mild right hamstring strain and both manager Davey Johnson and Flores felt it was not a significant injury at this time. He first felt it tighten up a little when he scored from second in the sixth inning and they took him out of the game to prevent it from becoming a serious injury in the top of the seventh.
Asked if he thought Flores might need to go on the disabled list, Johnson said “No” three times.
“I think it’s just more of a mild strain,” Johnson said. “I knew about it like in the bottom of the seventh but he said he was going to be OK to finish and I hate to use my last catcher. Then he got a hit and I saw him running to first and then when we bunted him over I saw him walk to second and I said, ‘Well I’ve got to get him.’ I can’t take a chance on him.”
In a run of catchers injuries bordering on unbelievable, Flores became the third Nationals catcher to leave a game with an injury in the last two weeks. Wilson Ramos tore his ACL May 12 in Cincinnati. Sandy Leon was lost to a high ankle sprain two games later.
It was unclear immediately what the nature of Flores’ injury was but he ran slowly to first base on an RBI-single. By the time he made it to second on Gio Gonzalez’s sac bunt, the Nationals’ trainers were already on the top step of the dugout. Flores said later he plans to take things day-by-day and hopes to fine by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Carlos Maldonado took over for Flores immediately, and Maldonado was scheduled to play Monday’s day game in Miami anyway.
Regardless, the Nationals can ill-afford to lose Flores. After Ramos and Leon’s injuries, the Nationals were not planning to go out and make a trade for a backup catcher and remain happy with Flores as a starter.