Flores to open season in Majors

Flores to open season in Majors

VIERA, Fla. -- Jesus Flores will start the 2008 season as the Nationals' backup catcher, while Johnny Estrada will be placed on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow.

Manager Manny Acta and general manager Jim Bowden have been adamant that Flores, a former Rule 5 pick, would play every day for Double-A Harrisburg, but Flores will spend two weeks with the big club. Once Estrada returns, Flores will be sent to Harrisburg, and Estrada will serve as Paul Lo Duca's backup.

"I'm preparing my mind that I'm going to develop myself in Harrisburg," Flores said. "I understand why they want me to go to Harrisburg. I'm going to be positive and look at this in a good way. I'm going to get some at-bats and play every day. I'm going to wait for the opportunity."

Flores, 23, was Washington's primary backup catcher last year, and did an excellent job, but Acta and Bowden want him to hone his craft in the Minor Leagues. The main goal is to improve his game calling and defense, according to Flores.

"I know I can hit. I'm not worried about it," Flores said.

Estrada has said that his elbow is improving, and was recently seen playing catch at Space Coast Stadium without any problems. He will play in a Minor League game on Tuesday.

"My whole goal is to try to make it when we go north," Estrada said. "But I understand what they are thinking. I don't want to go up there and be a liability. I need to play in some games and work out some kinks. I haven't caught in a game yet. It's wise to get some games under my belt."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.