Notes: Flores fits right in with Nats
Backup backstop does the little things to succeed in bigs
CHICAGO -- One thing has become clear about Nationals catcher Jesus Flores: He is not overwhelmed by his big-league experience. On Saturday afternoon against the Cubs, Flores, a Rule 5 pick last December, collected three hits to lift his batting average to .292.
Flores' skills behind the plate have been a pleasant surprise to the Nationals. He's shown the ability to block balls and throw out runners. It helps that he has a catching program with bench coach Pat Corrales on a weekly basis.
Flores is so good that Corrales has compared him to the late Bo Diaz, who played for Corrales with the Phillies in the early 1980s. Corrales said that Flores has great body balance with the bat and behind the plate.
"Up to this point, Flores has shown a lot of poise," Corrales said. "What is impressive is the way he conducts himself. He has a little swagger in his walk. He knows he can compete at this level, which is a very big factor. It doesn't bother him one bit.
"On Saturday, he came up with three hits. I expect that from him. He was excellent behind the plate. I can't tell you how many chances he had when it came to blocking balls with runners in scoring position."
His on-field performance is not all Flores does right. He is often found studying video. When he is on the bench during a game, he makes a habit of asking questions and studying pitchers.
"I try to learn everything about the game," he said. "I try to improve my skills -- catching, blocking, throwing and hitting. When I'm in the dugout, I try to watch the entire game. All of those things together are helping me a lot. Now that I'm here, I want to stay here for a long time."
Although Flores has been successful in limited action, don't look for Flores to get increased playing time. The starting job still belongs to Brian Schneider.
"I think he is going to be a very good player in the future," manager Manny Acta said about Flores. "We are going to do what we have to do to keep Jesus sharp and to keep him here as a Rule 5. But he is not here to platoon. He is not here to unseat Brian Schneider."
Amateur players: Since Spring Training ended, assistant general manager Mike Rizzo has been scouting players for the First-Year Player Draft. The Nationals have the sixth pick in the draft and, of the first 71 picks, the Nationals have six of them.
Rizzo did not say what the Nationals' game plan would be, but he said there are a lot of talented pitchers that will come out of the draft.
"It's a pitching-rich draft, I think, with some impact position players," Rizzo said.
Injury report: First baseman Dmitri Young has a sore foot and was given the day off on Sunday against the Cubs. He is listed as day-to-day. Acta then inserted Kory Casto at first base and Ryan Langerhans in left field.
Shortstop Cristian Guzman and center fielder Nook Logan are expected to join the Nationals on Sunday night in Milwaukee and start the next day against the Brewers. Guzman and Logan have been on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring and foot, respectively.
Back to the old position: Shortstop Felipe Lopez started at second base on Sunday because Acta wants him to get used to playing the position, with Guzman returning on Monday.
"I want him to play a full game at second, so tomorrow he doesn't have to get out there and feel out of place," Acta said.
Stat of the day: Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals are 1-20 when trailing after eight innings.
Did you know: Entering Sunday, the last time the Nationals had a pinch-hit was on April 18 against the Phillies. Josh Wilson singled in the 12th inning off right-hander Ryan Madson.
Coming up: The Nationals travel to Milwaukee to play a three-game series against the Brewers starting Monday night at Miller Park. In Game 1, Washington left-hander Matt Chico will face Milwaukee right-hander Dave Bush.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.