"He should be ready for the middle of spring training, worst-case scenario."General Manager Mike Rizzo, on Jesus Flores prospects after labrum surgery, Sept. 15, 2009.
THE RESULT: Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Philles threw a complete-game, five-hit 5-0 shut out against the Washington Nationals Tuesday night, then the Nats found out yet more bad news in a season chock full of it.
Jesus Flores, recovering from a stress fracture in his right shoulder, was diagnosed with a SLAP tear of his right (throwing) shoulder, will have surgery, and miss three-to-six months.
General manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement, and orthopedist James Andrews, who on Tuesday examined Flores in Birmingham, AL, will perform the procedure on Wednesday.
"[Flores] had an MRI on August 12. And it didn't show a tear. He was examined by Andrews at that time and our doctor, Wiemi Douoghui. He was examined three different times as he was on the disabled list and had two sets of MRIs that showed no tear. With the persistence of the tendinitis in his shoulder we felt it was prudent to send him back [for more testing]."
Rizzo stated that even with Flores' new injury and the long rehab, he didn't think the team needed to go out and sign a catcher in the offseason. "We're going to look at all the options," Rizzo said. "But catcher, with the people we have on staff right now and Jesus, we feel comfortable where we're at."
As for the game, it was another in a seemingly endless string of losses, dropping the Nats to 50-94 on the season.
Lee (W, 14-11, 3.00) pitched well, but the Nats made as much trouble for themselves as Lee did. The Nats struck out in order in the first inning on just 13 pitches. In the third inning, after a leadoff double, Josh Bard was thrown out trying to advance to third on a grounder to second base by Alberto Gonzalez. Two batters later, Gonzales allowed a slow roller by Justin Maxwell to hit his foot, making the runner out.
Not to be outdone, Nats starter Garrett Mock got himself out on the bases as well. He reached on an infield single in the fifth inning, and attempted to take second on an overthrow by Chase Utley. But Mock never looked to see where the ball went, and it hit a wall and bounced right to catcher Carlos Ruiz, who threw to second to get Mock easily.
Mock (L, 3-8, 5.89) pitched better than his line, and only allowed one hit after the second inning. He gave up five earned on seven hits and two walks in six innings, striking out two. But the big blow was a ground ball double down the left field line by Pedro Feliz with the bases loaded in the second.
"He had a little bad luck," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "They hit some balls hard, but he threw well after the second inning."
THE TAKEAWAY: This team simply makes too many outs on the basepaths, and baserunning skills have to be a point of emphasis in spring training. There's just no excuse for a veteran like Bard to make an out on that play early in the game.
Same with Gonzalez. Even if the ball hadn't hit him, he was still close enough to second base that if Rollins had fielded the ball cleanly, he probably would have thrown Gonzalez out at third anyway.
THE GOOD: Justin Maxwell. He went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot, his second multi-hit game in three days.
THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman. 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
THE UGLY: The news about Flores. What a crusher. The injury probably doesn't have anything to do with his activation and three pinch-hit at bats, but why run him out there when he's not completely healthy and run the risk. He's apparently been experiencing this discomfort for over a month, which pre-dates his activation.
It's just more medical mis-practice for this organization, which has a long history of it at this point. Why even open yourself up to the criticism?
But it's just devastating news to hear your young catcher needs to have labrum surgery.
You have to love Rizzo's optimism, though, that "middle of spring training," is worst-case scenario. Has he been paying attention to some of these injuries? I can think of a lot of worser worst-case scenarios. But I'm a natural pessimist.
NEXT GAME: The middle game of a three-game set with Philly. Livan Hernandez (8-10, 5.30) takes on Joe Blanton (9-7, 4.11) at 7:05 PM from Citizen's Bank Park.