Clayton Kershaw, who will start Opening Day against the Padres on April 4, has made five consecutive Opening Day starts. The Dodgers have won all five games. (David Crane/Staff photographer)
On April 5, 2010, Vicente Padilla started for the Dodgers against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s notable for a handful of reasons. It was Opening Day, and the only time in the last nine years the Dodgers have begun their season on the road against a non-NL West opponent.
It was also the last time someone other than Clayton Kershaw started on Opening Day for the Dodgers. Vicente Padilla. There’s your trivia answer.
Jesus Flores is 28 years old and has caught 263 major-league games. That makes him younger and more experienced than the Dodgers’ starter, A.J. Ellis.
The Washington Nationals granted Flores free agency in November and the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training on Tuesday.
Flores figures to compete with Tim Federowicz for the backup job. Considering Federowicz’s lack of experience (10 major-league games), it could make for an interesting competition.
Flores’ career batting numbers aren’t much to look at, though he did hit eight home runs and drive in 59 in only 90 games in 2008. The Venezuela native batted .301 in 2009, when surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right shoulder limited his season to 29 games. Flores hasn’t been the same since.
He didn’t play at all in 2010 and worried whether his career was over. He came back to play 30 games in 2011 and 83 last season, all in a backup role for the Nationals. His slash line since the surgery: .212/.249/.325. Even Flores’ defense seems to have suffered; since the surgery he’s thrown out only 13 of 67 attempted base stealers – 19.4 percent.
Flores is currently playing for Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.
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