Updated at 3:34 p.m.
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals optioned catcher Jesus Flores and right-hander Craig Stammen to Class AAA Syracuse this afternoon.
Flores thus loses the battle for the No. 2 catching job behind Ivan Rodriguez, who will start Opening Day. Wilson Ramos will make the club and likely ease into a starting role at some point.
Flores, who missed nearly two years with a shoulder injury, said he wasn't disappointed with the news but hoped he might crack the roster.
"I knew it was going to be a really good challenge for me to make the team," he said. "Because both of those guys, one is a legend and the other one is a good, young kid with great talent. But at the same time, I trust myself, because I know what I have done in the past and I know what I can do in the present and future. I'm going to keep trusting myself, going down to the minors, doing what I have to do and make the team again."
Flores, 26, started 143 games for the Nationals between 2007-09 and was hitting .301 as the club's everyday catcher in May 2009 when he took a foul ball off his shoulder that ultimately turned into a torn labrum.
After spending all of last years rehabbing, Flores is finally 100 percent healthy. The rust that built up over two lost seasons, though, was evident this spring. He hit just .125 (3-for-24) with one homer and three RBI in 15 games. Team officials would rather him play nearly every day at Syracuse and build up at-bats than sit on the bench in Washington and start only a few times a week.
"Of course, I want to play every day and not be that guy behind the other," he said. "I just want to be that guy from 2009 again."
Stammen, 27, was hoping to make the club as a long reliever but will apparently lose that job to either Chad Gaudin or Brian Broderick after allowing four earned runs in 8 2/3 innings this spring.
Manager Jim Riggleman said Stammen, who went 4-4 with a 5.13 ERA in 35 games (19 starts) last season, will likely pitch out of the rotation in Syracuse.