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Long time comin’

Aug 19, 2011, 4:59 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Jesus Flores gets high-fives after hitting his first home run in more than two years.

As Jesus Flores crossed the plate, pride swelling after clubbing his first big-league home run in more than two years, Jordan Zimmermann stood there waiting to offer some choice words of congratulation.

“About time!” the Nationals pitcher told his batterymate, prompting both guys to start laughing.

If anyone could appreciate what this moment meant for Flores, it was Zimmermann. The two spent the second half of 2009 and the first half of 2010 in virtual isolation together at the Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Fla. Each was rehabbing from a major arm injury, Zimmermann’s torn elbow ligament actually less damaging than Flores’ shredded right shoulder.

Zimmermann was back in the big leagues last August, 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery. Flores didn’t make it back until earlier this season, nearly two full years after he first took a foul ball off his shoulder, fracturing the bone.

“Some people had their doubts if he’d ever make it back up here,” Zimmermann said. “He was busting his tail down there in Florida and finally got healthy. He called a great game tonight, and he’s swinging the bat pretty good, too.”

It’s been a long time coming, but Thursday night both players made major contributions to a Nationals victory. Zimmermann gutted
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  1. baseballswami - Aug 19, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    All of these come-back stories just warm my heart. And I have a suggestion for after JZim is shut down – pinch hitter and pinch runner! He has a batting average that is decent for a small number of abs and he hustles down the line every time. He seems like he would like to keep contributing however he can.

  2. natsfan1a - Aug 19, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Mine, too, swami. Atta boy, Jesus! Nice story and kinda sweet how they bonded in Viera. You don't want any of your guys to be hurt but I'm glad that they could be there for each other.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    If he gets back to form I think he is the better of the two.

  4. Doc - Aug 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    Nice story Mark!It's been harder for Jesus to come back, than JZim. JZim is back. Flores is still on the trail.With all due respect to Ramos, a great trade on Rizzo's part, Flores had a better offensive minor league career. I still think that Flores is potentially the better hitter of the two. It's up to him to prove it, of course. The Nats are in a good position to have them both.Hope that Davey gives Flores more starts between now and the end of the season.

  5. NatHat - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Congrats to Flores it is nice to see him have some success after his long recovery. On the other hand I have enjoyed watching Pudge play and he has contributed much beyond the boxscore. According to Mark Z. he is done for the year? Bet nobody has told him, and I for one will be disappointed.

  6. baseballswami - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Really wondering how our catcher situation sets up for 2012.Can Pudge come back? Can't see us trading Ramos after we dealt for him last season and planned on him being part of "The Plan" — but Flores was part of "The Plan" — Part A, before he got hurt. Does Flores get traded now that he is proving that he is back? In a way , the Pudge injury did him a favor because he is getting some time up here to prove he can still play. I still think some of the pitchers are having a little trouble getting into a rhythm with him, though – that should work out. Marquis was the one that really seemed the most annoyed. I am hoping for a well-timed hot streak by our offense this weekend. The defense looked first-half good in the game- hope it stays tight. That Desi "error" was not routine. Gomez, Bixler, Espi – sparkly!

  7. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Bixler and Espi made the MLB top plays. (Gomes, no, but WE love ya!)

  8. SCNatsFan - Aug 19, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I'm happy for Flores, I'm happy for Bixler but most importantly I'm happy for me because I don't have to rail on how the Nats threw a game away last night… for a moment I can just enjoy… and be happy as a Nats fan

  9. jd - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    baseballswami, And you didn't even mention Derek Norris who hit his 18th home run last night.

  10. Anonymous - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Pudge play and he has contributed much beyond the boxscore. According to Mark Z. he is done for the year? Bet nobody has told him, and I for one will be disappointed.Looks like Pudge is still a couple weeks from coming back. But by then it will be September, rosters will expand, and they can carry three catchers. So the real decision point comes after the season when they have to decide whether to re-sign Pudge. But with Flores back and looking good, seems more and more likely they won't.

  11. Natslifer - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    God I hate the Phillies. Let's take this series!!!!!!!

  12. gonatsgo - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Natslifer – grew up in Filthy country and have lots of relatives there. OOOH – I want to beat them so bad I can taste it!!!

  13. jd - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    Peacock gave up 1 hit (no runs) over 6 innings last night. I think he'l be on that September train. What about a rotation of: SS,LaNnen,Det,Milone and Peacock for September? Marrero at 1st and Morse in left?

  14. jd - Aug 19, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Make that 1 hit over 7 innings for Peacock. However he had 5 walks and 6 k's which is less than brilliant.

  15. SCNatsFan - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    jd I think you have to let Wang keep pitching to see what you have there; same with Detwiler and SS thats three spots locked, figure LannEn is 4 so I see only one call up getting more then 1 start.

  16. Steve M. - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    baseballswami said… All of these come-back stories just warm my heart. And I have a suggestion for after JZim is shut down – pinch hitter and pinch runner! He has a batting average that is decent for a small number of abs and he hustles down the line every time. He seems like he would like to keep contributing however he can. August 19, 2011 2:35 AM As crazy as that sounds, I think it is a great suggestion. He can be a designated pinch hitting bunter and run the bases which is a great thing about September baseball. JZim really toughed it out last night. Made some great pitches when he had to and for one of the few times this year, the Nats didn't allow his inherited runners to score—that is progress!JZim, #11 in ERA, #9 in ERC and tied for #9 in WHIPhttp://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/pitching/_/league/nl/sort/ERC/type/sabermetric/order/false

  17. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    Here is a stat for you. Tyler Clippard has never been removed from an inning. That means he never left inherited runners for another pitcher.

  18. NatsLady - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    I read that about Clippard, but I think it's not true. He did come out once for Storen to go in. Maybe that was after the stat came out, or maybe there were no runners? Anyway, it's impressive.

  19. Steve M. - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    jd said… Peacock gave up 1 hit (no runs) over 6 innings last night. I think he'l be on that September train. What about a rotation of: SS,LaNnen,Det,Milone and Peacock for September?Marrero at 1st and Morse in left? August 19, 2011 9:48 AMJD, I don't think its that simple because Milone and Peacock aren't on the 40 man roster. With adding Purke and Rendon, the Nats have to ration the spots. I think Rizzo brings up 1 pitcher who then will compete in Spring Training for the 5th spot in the rotation for 2012. Milone has the advantage being a lefty.

  20. Mark'd - Aug 19, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    On the Jay Flo love, it was Nice to see and quite possibly this becomes next years catching tandem.Let us keep in mind that Flores has that Nick Johnson history of getting hurt.

  21. N. Cognito - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    "So the real decision point comes after the season when they have to decide whether to re-sign Pudge."Doubtful. Pudge wants to go somewhere where he can get more playing time so that he can reach 3000 hits. If he stayed in DC, it would take about 5 years to get 3000, and that's not figuring in more injuries and any further decline in his abilities.

  22. N. Cognito - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    "JD, I don't think its that simple because Milone and Peacock aren't on the 40 man roster. With adding Purke and Rendon, the Nats have to ration the spots."The Nats have 3 guys – LaRoche, Slaten and Kimball who could go to the 60-day DL, freeing up spots for players currently not on the 40-man roster.

  23. N. Cognito - Aug 19, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    …and one of those three spots is for Strasburg.

  24. jd - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Steve M. and N.Cognito, It also wouldn't break my heart if we DFA'd Maya and Severino and Coffee and Bixler and Cora. SCNatsFan, I completely forgot CMW. You are absolutely right. But they can still use Milone and/or Peacock out of the pen or they can go to a 6 man rotation. I think that it's really important to give the guys who 'graduated' from AAA a reasonable look. I know that it's unethical to play call ups against teams in contention but we have tons of games against the Mets, Marlins, Dodgers, Astros not to mention the fact that the Phills should have the division wrapped up fairly soon. I think that the only games that will matter in the standings will be against the Braves.

  25. SonnyG10 - Aug 19, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    I'm glad I'm not the one that has to choose between Ramos and Flores. I think Flores is the better hitter, but then he's had more major league at bats. Is he injury prone? I don't know. This is a good problem to have.

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