- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

MIAMI | Jesus Flores wants to return to the Washington Nationals‘ lineup and finish what was shaping up to be a strong season.

The Nationals, though, don’t want their young catcher to take any chances with a sprained left ankle, so for now they’re preventing him from resuming full baseball activities.

“I know that he’s anxious to get out there and at least take some swings,” manager Manny Acta said. “But we’re going to make sure he’s fine. I know he wants to play. I know how these guys get. And I just told him, let’s trust our training staff and make sure that he’s 100 percent.”

Flores was injured Sept. 2 when Phillies second baseman Chase Utley crashed into him on a play at the plate. Taken off the field in an ambulance, Flores initially was worried he had sustained a major injury. But tests revealed only a sprained ankle, and he’s gradually made progress since then.

Before Friday night’s game against the Marlins, Flores jogged and did squats. He was encouraged Saturday not to have any lingering soreness from all the work.

“I feel great,” he said. “When I wake up, usually it feels sore, I’ve got to start moving it around. Today, I walked right away.”

Acta predicts the 23-year-old will return to the lineup for the season’s final week. Flores wants to make it back and end his season on an upbeat note.

Mock’s mind on Ike

Garrett Mock didn’t sleep much Friday night. The Nationals right-hander, a Houston native, couldn’t keep his eyes off television images of Hurricane Ike hammering his hometown.

“I was up at 4 a.m. watching TV,” he said.

Mock, who went to high school on the east side of town not far from Galveston Bay, said his wife and baby left town in advance of the storm, but his parents and others remained to ride it out.

With power and phone lines down throughout town, his could only communicate via text message.

“Everyone’s doing OK,” he said.

Extra bases

Ronnie Belliard’s hopes of returning from a strained groin are diminishing. The veteran infielder, who hurt himself running down the first-base line Sept. 7 at Atlanta, hasn’t resumed running yet. “Right now, I don’t think I can see him being out there and playing the way he’s walking around,” Acta said. …

Also struggling to get himself back onto the field is Dmitri Young, who continues to battle a strained quadriceps muscle suffered while making his comeback from medical issues related to his diabetes. Team doctors will examine Young once the club returns home this week, and Acta said there’s no timetable for his return to the field.

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