Nationals send Nieves to Minors camp

Nats send Nieves to Minors camp

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals re-assigned catcher Wil Nieves to Minor League camp on Sunday night. Nieves, a good catch-and-throw guy, was only 4-for-22 (.182) with one RBI during the exhibition season.

Sending Nieves down means that Jesus Flores will be the backup catcher for now, but general manager Jim Bowden is hoping that Johnny Estrada will be ready for Opening Day. Estrada has a sore elbow and hasn't played a Spring Training game. He is expected to play a Minor League game on Tuesday.

"Johnny Estrada will be very close to being ready. He hasn't felt this good in years," Bowden said. "We'll decide in the end whether he is disabled or not."

If Estrada starts the season on the disabled list, Flores will back up Paul Lo Duca. Once Estrada is off the DL, Flores will play every day for Double-A Harrisburg.

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