Sep 16, 2009, 12:12 PM EDT
Jesus Flores got off to a great start this season, as the 24-year-old catcher was handed the starting job in Washington and hit .301/.371/.505 through 106 plate appearances while nearly matching his walk total from all of 2008.
Everything changed when he took a foul ball off his right shoulder on May 9. Initially diagnosed as a bruise, Flores was later found to have a stress fracture in the shoulder and ended up missing four months of action.
He finally rejoined the Nationals last week, serving strictly as a pinch-hitter to protect his shoulder, but began complaining of pain in the area anyway and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum today.
Labrum injuries are basically the worst-case scenario for pitchers, so naturally they aren’t great for catchers either. Flores is expected to be sidelined for 3-6 months, putting his status for next season in some doubt. “He should be ready for the middle of spring training, worst-case scenario,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, adding that the Nationals are unlikely to pursue another starting-caliber catcher this offseason.
Flores’ injury is just another tough break for the Nationals, who had already lost fellow long-term building block Jordan Zimmermann for 2010 thanks to Tommy John elbow surgery. Obviously they weren’t going to compete for a playoff spot next season anyway, but the Nationals need guys like Flores and Zimmermann to develop into impact players and the injuries diminish those odds significantly.
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