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Flores sprains ankle in collision at plate

Flores sprains ankle in collision at plate

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WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Jesus Flores left Tuesday's game against the Phillies after the top of the third inning with a sprained left ankle. An X-ray found no obvious fracture, but Flores will have an MRI on Wednesday.

In the top of the third, with runners on first and third and two outs, Nationals left-hander John Lannan tried to pick off Jayson Werth. As the throw was going toward first baseman Ronnie Belliard, Chase Utley tried to steal home. Utley crashed into Flores shoulder first at the plate and was tagged out.

Flores tried to get up and went down to the ground in pain. Manager Manny Acta, head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz and assistant athletic trainer Michael McGowan came to Flores' aid. Flores stayed on the field for about 10 minutes before the ambulance came and transported him into the clubhouse for X-rays.

"[Lannan] has a slow delivery to the plate and first base, so I figured there was a possibility of stealing home," Utley said. "I was ready for it and thought I had a good jump, but they made a quick throw to home. I thought the only opportunity at that point to be safe was try to knock the ball loose.

"I didn't know he was hurt until I went back on the field. I do feel bad he was hurt. My intentions weren't to hurt him. It was to knock the ball loose."

Every one on the Nationals, from Acta to bench coach Pat Corrales, Flores' mentor, thought Utley did nothing wrong on the play. Flores got hurt because his left cleat got caught on the ground.

"When I saw that type of pain that he was in, I was very worried and really felt bad for the kid," Acta said about Flores. "The good news is that the X-rays didn't show anything. I'm optimistic that this thing will go away in 10 to 12 days. We looked at the video several times. He was right in front of the plate and he fell hard. Utley was trying to get the ball out of his glove."

Even the Phillies manager Charlie Manuel felt Utley did nothing wrong on the play. In fact, Utley is known for his aggressiveness around the bases.

"That's the way you play, said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "I wish every one of my players would play that way. That would be good. Don't say old school, that's good school. ... That's the way you play the game ... unless you want to put some rouge and makeup and lipstick on."

The Nationals are now in need of a catcher, so they selected catcher Luke Montz from Triple-A Columbus.

Montz, 25, hit a combined .271 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs in 111 games for Columbus and Double-A Harrisburg this season. He began the season at Harrisburg, where he hit .282 with a .368 on-base percentage and led all Eastern League catchers with 14 homers, 53 RBIs, 28 extra-base hits and a .554 slugging percentage when he was promoted to Columbus on June 30. In 48 games with Columbus, Montz hit .256 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.

Montz threw out 36 of 97 basestealers this season, including 23 of 54 (43 percent) while playing with Harrisburg. He was selected by the Nationals in the 17th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft out of Hill (Texas) Junior College.

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

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