Flores confident, healthy following winter ball

Flores confident, healthy following winter ball

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson said catcher Ivan Rodriguez understood why the Nationals didn't bring him back for a third season. The team wanted to stick with Jesus Flores to see if he could get his confidence back.

So far, Flores has looked like the productive player he was before he hurt his shoulder in May of 2009. On Saturday, Flores went 2-for 2 with an RBI against the Astros in a 3-1 loss. It helped that he played well for Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .330 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs.

"The winter helped him a great deal because he is throwing a lot better. He is confident, more sure of himself. He looks like he is midseason form to me," Johnson said.

Flores said he no longer worries about his injured shoulder or staying in the big leagues. He is more focused on improving his game.

"It's like, 'Play baseball, relax and have fun,'" Flores said. "Before, I was worried too much about, 'Don't go back to Triple-A, I want to stay in the bigs.' Then the shoulder ... I don't want to get hurt again, all that kind of stuff."

Flores most likely will begin the season as Washington's backup behind Wilson Ramos. Flores realizes that he is an everyday player, but understands what his role will be this year.

"If that's what it is, I'm prepared for it, I'm ready for it," Flores said. "I just want to do my job, show that I can be a regular catcher. If [I am a bench player], I'll do my best with Wilson, and I know for sure he wants to do the same thing."