Nats' Johnson could see Pudge return in 2012

Nats' Johnson could see Pudge return in 2012

WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list because of a right oblique strain, is still unable to hit, but doesn't have any problems throwing the baseball. Rodriguez was hoping to hit in the cage this weekend, but manager Davey Johnson indicated that it will be a while until that happens.

Johnson is hoping Rodriguez is activated when the roster expands sometime in September. Johnson also said he would like to have Rodriguez back for next season. However, Jesus Flores could determine if Rodriguez returns to Washington. Flores is trying to show that he can be productive as a backup catcher.

Entering Friday's action against the Phillies, Flores is hitting .244 with a homer and one RBI in 15 games.

"Anybody would be crazy not to have him back," Johnson said about Rodriguez. "He is a tremendous talent. He has been great here this year. He is fun to have around. He can hit, he can catch, he can throw and he adds to our depth at catching. He is a valuable asset. It just depends on the roster and what goes on over the winter and what our needs are.

"It's also a valuable time for Flores to try to regain the status that he had a couple of years ago. That will weigh more than Pudge coming back. Everybody knows what Pudge can do."