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09/16/09 8:03 PM ET

With Flores out, Nats may seek catcher

Backstop has surgery, will be gone until Spring Training

WASHINGTON -- A day after it was learned that Nationals catcher Jesus Flores wouldn't be ready to play baseball until the middle of Spring Training, interim manager Jim Riggleman said it will be a tough call on whether or not the team should acquire another starting catcher this winter.

Flores was in a throwing program the past couple of weeks. At first, the team thought Flores had tendinitis, but the right shoulder never got stronger. On Wednesday night in Birmingham, Ala., Dr. James Andrews performed right labrum surgery.

"That's going to be a tough call, because it's really relying on the doctor's and trainer's information when it comes to getting a timetable as to when Flores will be back," Riggleman said. "If it looks like it's January and he's ready to get it moving, we can go in hoping that he is our No. 1 guy.

"We also have to be aware that it's a labrum situation that could affect his throwing. There is a lot to digest there for [general manager] Mike Rizzo and everybody involved as to where we go with the catching. The two guys here -- [Josh Bard and Wil Nieves] -- are doing a good job, but if we are looking for a regular No. 1 guy, we are still hoping it's Flores."

If Flores isn't ready, the Nationals may have to go to the free-agent market to find a starting catcher. A player such as Rod Barajas may be a good fit, because he is an excellent handler of pitchers.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.