MILWAUKEE -- Jesus Flores was due for a mental break, and that's what he got from Nationals manager Davey Johnson on Friday night.
Johnson decided to sit the scuffling Nationals catcher and start backup Sandy Leon against the Brewers. Flores hasn't had an extra-base hit since June 29, when he hit a double and a homer, and he's batting .160 with three walks and 15 strikeouts in 16 games (15 starts) since then. During that span, Flores has seen his average fall from .250 to .228, and his OPS drop from .672 to .597.
"I just think he's fighting himself too much offensively, and I want him to relax," Johnson said. "I'm sure he wants to play, but I just want him to let go. He's worried about everything under the sun. That's not the way you perform at this level. Keep it simple and relax."
Flores missed three games over the last week due to a sore back, but Johnson assured that he would have Flores back in the starting lineup on Saturday at Miller Park.
Johnson didn't seem to think Flores was letting his offensive struggles affect his work behind the plate, but he did point out that Flores might have taken Carlos Gomez's two-run homer off Henry Rodriguez on Thursday night harder than did Rodriguez.
"Anytime I see a guy pressing a little bit, I want him to relax and come sit next to me then go back out there," Johnson said. "It's really the only way I know."