It was a tough day for Nationals catcher Jesus Flores. The primary catcher since Wilson Ramos tore his ACL in May, Flores learned before the first game of a doubleheader on Friday that his club had traded for another catcher – Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki – and that he, more than likely, was returning to back-up duty.

Flores then started Game 1 and did little to show it was the wrong move. He batted 0-for-4 and was charged with a passed ball. He couldn’t handle a wild pitch from Lannan in the seventh inning. Before the game manager Davey Johnson said Flores “was his own worst enemy” this season. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo was less critical, but the deal speaks for itself. The Nats felt they needed to get better behind the plate. And while Suzuki has been even worse than Flores in that respect this season, he is a far better defensive player and his reputation as an excellent game manager proceeds him.

“No, this wasn’t a message-sending deal,” Rizzo said. “This was a deal to improve the ballclub and improve it not only for this year, but for the future. When you get a chance to get a defensive stalwart like Suzuki and an energy guy and a makeup guy and a character guy like him you make the deal.”

Nothing personal. Flores just hasn’t been good enough – and that leaves his future with the organization, where he’s played since 2007, in doubt beyond this season. He’s batting .225 with a .586 OPS. Runners have successfully stolen 36 of the last 37 times against him – though the Nats are quick to shift much of that blame to their pitching staff. Flores has three home runs in 226 at-bats and 15 extra-base hits total. He has walked 11 times and struck out 52. Flores can still help. But as the primary player at that position? That’s unlikely to continue.

“I think [Flores] has given us a good effort,” Rizzo said. “He’s a guy that blocks the ball extremely well. He’s struggling with the bat right now. But we feel good about Flo as a catcher for us and as a guy that contribute to a championship-caliber club.”

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