VIERA Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang said Monday that he most likely will not be ready by Opening Day.
The righty still needs to build up strength in his shoulder and pitch more innings before returning to a big league mound. Wang hopes to be ready by late April or sometime in May. He already has had four bullpen sessions this spring.
"I need to build up the innings and the pitch count. It will take one or two months," Wang said. "The Nationals will tell me when I can pitch."
Wang missed the entire 2010 season because of right shoulder problems. After he was non-tendered, Wang re-signed with Washington in December.
The Nationals are hoping that Wang will be the pitcher who won a combined 38 games for the Yankees in 2006 and '07.
"I'm getting much better than last year," Wang said. "I'll try to get in a [Spring Training] game."
Flores feels fortunate for another shot
VIERA Fla. -- Nationals catcher Jesus Flores says his right shoulder is 100 percent. On Monday, Flores was seen in the bullpen catching pitchers such as Garrett Mock and Tyler Clippard.
"I feel very well. My shoulder is finally healthy," Flores said. "This is a new year for me. I'm ready to compete physically and mentally. I'm excited to start [the exhibition season]. It's a big thing for me.
"I'm glad God and baseball are giving me another opportunity to be back. The last couple of years have been hard for me, and I don't want to think about it."
Flores hurt his shoulder on May 9, 2009, when he was hit by a foul tip off the bat of D-backs outfielder Chris Young in Phoenix.
Flores was in pain for several minutes, but remained in the game before being taken out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Flores was activated from the disabled list Sept. 4 and made two pinch-hitting appearances.
However, he was sent to Alabama after complaining of shoulder soreness and ended up having right labrum surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.
The shoulder continued to give Flores problems, and he ended up missing the 2010 season. He wondered if he would ever play again, but it took his first game in the Instructional League this fall for him to realize that that he could continue to play baseball. In that game, Flores hit a home run.
"When you are in the middle of that storm, you start thinking about everything," Flores said. "A lot of things go through your head -- a lot of negative stuff. But then you start seeing the sunny days and you start thinking positively. There were a couple of days when I thought, 'My god, I think this is the end. I'm not going to play baseball anymore.' But then the next day you wake up, feel good and say, 'No, no, no. Stop thinking about that. You have too many goals in your head where you want to be an All-Star and be in the big leagues for a long time.'"
Flores continued to play in the Venezuelan Winter League and didn't have any problems behind the plate or with the bat. In 25 games, Flores hit .322 with two home runs and 16 RBIs for Navegantes del Magallanes.
"It was a big test for me," Flores said. "I gave 120 percent during my at-bats. My body operated really well. I hit well, I caught well and I threw well. So I feel like a new player and I'm ready to play baseball."
Flores finds himself battling catchers Wilson Ramos and Ivan Rodriguez for a spot on the 25-man roster. The Nationals have not ruled out using Flores as a trade chip.
"Right now, I'm not thinking about [being traded]," Flores said. "I'm just thinking about staying healthy and showing the team that I'm ready to be here. I know Pudge and Ramos are good players. But I'm not afraid of anything. Baseball is baseball. That's how it is. I need to go out there every day, play hard, give your best and let everything happen."
Position players show up early
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals position players don't have to report to Spring Training until Sunday, but third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, outfielder Jayson Werth, shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Nyjer Morgan and second baseman Danny Espinosa are already in camp, and they were seen taking batting practice late Monday morning.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.