MIAMI -- Nationals catcher Jesus Flores isn't quite ready to test his injured left ankle just yet.

Flores, who sprained his ankle in a collision with Phillies second baseman Chase Utley on Sept. 2, was hoping to start hitting in the batting cages.

But Flores has put that on hold and said that he'd likely just continue to play catch and jog until he returns to Washington for a 10-game homestand beginning Monday.

"It's painful," said Flores, who has missed the past eight games. "It's still sore, so we have to take care of it."

But the 23-year-old, who entered Friday batting .256 with eight homers and 59 RBIs in his second year in the Majors, has not given up hope on playing before the end of the season.

"I want to play," Flores said. "If I have to do something to play, I will -- whether it's taped up or something.

"I'm going to finish up [the last couple of days of the season], but I don't know when it's going to be the day [I'm back in the lineup]."

In other injury news, Austin Kearns (stress fracture in his left foot) hopes to be back with the team before the end of the season. Kearns has not been doing any baseball activities, just riding the elliptical bike and getting treatment. The 28-year-old outfielder, who's been out since Aug. 25, said he will likely get different treatment and test the injury a bit more when the Nationals return home, but he doesn't know exactly what that will entail.

Infielder Ronnie Belliard (tight right groin) didn't seem as optimistic. Belliard, who was the hottest hitter on the Nationals since the All-Star break before he went down on Sept. 4, hasn't officially declared that his season is over, but he hasn't been doing any baseball activities, and he wants to play for the Dominican Republic's winter ball team in October.

"I haven't been doing any running or anything," Belliard said. "It bothers me, and I know I can't run. As long as I can't run, I can't do anything.

"There's always a possibility [I can return], but I know we're not going to the playoffs, and there's really not much pressure to come back. If I'm good enough to play in the final week or so, I'll do it. If not, I won't."