For Flores, the future looks bright
Nats catcher eager to help team contend in future
While the Nationals have generally struggled this season, the year has been a breakout one for 23-year-old catcher Jesus Flores. The Carupano, Venezuela-born Flores, who was a backup as a rookie to Brian Schneider last season, has taken over as the Nats regular catcher and become one of the most consistent threats in Washington's lineup. He's batting .283 with eight home runs and leads the Nats with 50 RBIs. Flores recently answered the following questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you discuss your season overall?
Flores: From the beginning, when I got the chance to play every day, I have put together a good season, I think. I've played well, and I have confidence in myself. Getting a chance to play on an everyday basis is what I've been looking for, and by working hard and preparing myself, I have gone out there with the idea to do well.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You lead the team in runs batted in. Is that a number you look at to help show people that you are having a solid season?
Flores: At the plate, I've focused a lot. I've been mentally prepared for my at-bats. When I have a situation where a runner is on base, I try and move him over, or, if we have a runner on third, I try to get a fly ball to the outfield. I have had consistent concentration during those times.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You are just 23 years old. How much more can you improve?
Flores: People might see me as being young, but I don't necessarily see it that way. I know a lot of things, and I have taken advantage of it, and I overlook my age. I feel that I'm smart, and, if I keep going and keep working hard, I can have a long career.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How is your defensive play coming along?
Flores: I believe in our coaches, and Pat Corrales has worked with me a lot in calling games and in overall game situations. I work on blocking balls and throwing well to the bases and catching popups. It's about trying to improve myself, both at the plate and in the field. That's why I'm having success.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have battled to get to this spot. How have you worked with the other catchers during your time here?
Flores: We've had good catchers here. I have worked with Wil Nieves a lot, and we talk a lot about catching and the game in general. Paul Lo Duca and Johnny Estrada were also here before getting released. In all, it's important for us to all communicate.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You are from Venezuela. Is there a catcher, past or present, from Venezuela that you really admire?
Flores: Ramon Hernandez. He's a guy whom I've watched a lot. I've talked to him as well. He is a good catcher and a good person. I admire him a lot.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You started your career in the Mets organization. What do you remember most about being in the Mets organization?
Flores: I signed with them as a free agent. They are a good organization, and I enjoyed my time there. But now I am with this team at the big league level and I couldn't ask for anything else.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When you first came to the Washington organization, did you think it would be a good opportunity for you?
Flores: I knew I would have to do a lot to earn the starting position. I told myself that I could play every day. That was the goal in my mind, and all my preparation has been to achieve that goal. I have prepared myself every day to play every day.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Finally, while you have had personal success this year, the team has struggled. How do you balance that?
Flores: It's hard for me, because I'm behind the dish everyday. It's hard, but you can only control all that you can control. Playing is hard. I have confidence, though, that in the future we will be one of the better teams.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.