Weird scene in the Nationals’ locker room after the Game 2 loss to the Marlins. It was the first time local reporters had a chance to chat with catcher Jesus Flores on Friday. Hours earlier the team traded with the Oakland A’s for catcher Kurt Suzuki and basically handed him Flores’ starting job. But he claimed to know nothing about it until asked. His reaction?
“To what?” Flores said.
Um…the trade for Kurt Suzuki.
“I didn’t know. I just know because you,” Flores said. “I didn’t know. Nobody has told me anything. Nobody say anything to me about it. I’m surprised because you guys telling me right now.”
Doesn’t do us much good to read into body language or tone of voice here. Flores seemed genuinely surprised. He could have also turned himself into a performance artist by feigning ignorance of a sensitive subject. The man is on Twitter after all, didn’t play in the second game and had 30 minutes in between games to learn the news. The team even announced it on the scoreboard during Game 2. Not sure how you miss an 85-foot tall head shot of Suzuki on the big HD scoreboard in right field with an blatantly photo-shopped curly “W” hat on his head.
We’re stretching the bounds of plausibility here, but might as well take him at his word. It doesn’t change the fact that Flores is back where he started the season – the clear No. 2 catcher who will have to make do with less playing time. And maybe that’s a good thing for a player who has performed well in short bursts, but struggled when asked to play night after night. Asked again if he had a reaction to the news – albeit with little time to digest it apparently – Flores maintained his stance.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Flores said. “I don’t even want to talk about it. I just in shock. I didn’t know we had a new catcher.”
Suzuki should be in Washington on Saturday, though no word yet on if he’ll play. It’s likely that back-up catcher Sandy Leon will be the man sent back to Triple-A Syracuse.
The best man to ask about Suzuki in the clubhouse was Friday’s Game 2 starter Gio Gonzalez. He played with Suzuki for four years in Oakland before being traded to the Nats in December.
“Excited to see him [Saturday]. He’s a good guy, a great teammate of mine when I was in Oakland,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully he brings some positive vibes in here.”
“He’s aggressive behind the plate. He’s definitely going to bring some attitude back there meaning in a good way. He’s going to keep the pitchers on their toes, constantly get them to go. But he was taught by the best and you’re going to see he’s going to bring some positive stuff over here for us.”
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