- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Having already introduced a new pitching coach by Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Nationals learned they will spend most of the remainder of the season without their top catcher.

Jesus Flores, who originally was scheduled to come off the disabled list Friday with what was diagnosed as a right shoulder contusion, instead has a stress fracture in his right shoulder that will keep him out three months and possibly the rest of the year, acting general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Flores was examined by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, and he saw surgeon James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday; Andrews confirmed Douoguih’s diagnosis, even though the stress fracture didn’t show up on the first MRI of Flores’ shoulder.

“It’s a bad day for the organization,” Rizzo said. “It’s not a devastating injury, but it will take time to heal. It’s a big chunk out of his season.”

Douoguih said Flores will not need surgery, but he can’t resume baseball activities for at least six weeks.

The injury strips Washington’s offense of one of its most promising young performers. Flores hit .311 with four homers and 15 RBI in 26 games before the injury and had an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .905.

Wil Nieves and Josh Bard will continue to split the catching duties, and Rizzo said the Nationals are comfortable with those two.

Flores missed the final month of the 2008 season with a sprained left ankle, and his second full season in the big leagues is now largely lost.

“He’s a valuable part of the team,” Douoguih said. “You almost treat him as a family member and not let him get out there until he’s ready.”

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