Add another name into the spring battle to back up A.J. Ellis — per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, 28-year-old Jesus Flores has signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers that also includes an invite to spring training. Flores spent parts of five seasons with the Nationals after joining them from the Mets via the 2006 Rule 5 draft, and was for some time seen as their catcher of the future, considering he’d hit 21 homers with a good throwing arm in A-ball in 2006.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. He spent most of 2007 on the bench, as you’d expect from a Rule 5 guy, and then the plan to actually let him play every day in the minors in 2008 fell apart when Paul Lo Duca & Johnny Estrada did. In 2009, he was off to a wonderful start – .311/.382/.522 in 103 plate appearances — before a Chris Young foul tip fractured his shoulder on May 9. It’s all been downhill since then for Flores, who missed the rest of the season (save for a few September pinch-hitting appearances) while trying to rehab, and then all of 2010 after he could put off surgery no longer.
By the time he’d returned in 2011, Wilson Ramos had taken over the job, and even though Flores had the most plate appearances of any Washington catcher in 2012, thanks to a string of injuries to others — he hit only .213/.248/.329 in 296 plate appearances — the presences of Ramos and Oakland import Kurt Suzuki pushed him down the depth chart, and he was non-tendered in November.
Of course, the writing may have been on the wall for Flores in August when the team acquired Suzuki… and no one bothered to tell him:
There was a somewhat unfortunate scene in the Nationals’ clubhouse after Friday night’s doubleheader when reporters approached Jesus Flores to get his reaction on the Nationals’ latest acquisition, catcher Kurt Suzuki, who is expected to become the team’s primary receiver.
Flores, who has assumed the starting catcher’s role since Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee in May, said he was unaware that the team had made the trade.
“I didn’t know,” Flores said. “I just know because you told me. Nobody has told me anything.
“Nobody has say anything to me about it, so I’m just surprised.”
“I don’t even want to talk about it,” Flores said. “I’m just in shock. I didn’t know we had a new catcher.”
Awkward. Anyway, Flores will battle Eliezer Alfonzo, Wilkin Castillo, & Ramon Castro for the right to challenge Tim Federowicz for the backup job, but more than likely end up in Albuquerque — where Matt Wallach may move up from Chattanooga. Obviously, not all of these guys are going to make it, but I have to admit I’m somewhat rooting for Flores, given that he’s still on the right side of 30, ostensibly talented, and has shown some life against lefty pitching (.730 career OPS).
On the other hand, this report from MLB.com in November isn’t great…
Flores lost his job as the starting catcher last August after the Nats acquired Suzuki from the Athletics. Washington was unhappy with Flores’ game-calling. It was learned that Flores would often go against the game plan against opposing hitters. There were even some in the organization who felt that Flores cared more about his offense than his game-calling.
…and that’s how you end up as a non-roster guy just happy to get an invite to camp, I suppose.