Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos took another step in his return Monday when he put on the gear and caught two simulated innings in Viera, Florida. It was his first time behind the plate since suffering a season ending right knee injury last June.
Ramos said that he felt fine after the session. The man who began 2012 as Washington’s starting catcher believes that he is on track to be ready by opening day.
Ramos was injured when the knee buckled while he tried to retrieve a passed ball against the Cincinnati Reds. He underwent two surgeries to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and missed the remainder of the season. Ramos spent the winter months rehabbing in hopes of returning by spring training. That goal has been reached and it is now time to get in shape for the upcoming season.
While Ramos was out, the Nationals made a trade with the Oakland Athletics for Kurt Suzuki. He came over in August and replaced Jesus Flores. Suzuki helped Washington win he NL East and has been brought back this spring. He is expected to be the opening day catcher with Ramos penciled in to back him up.
Ramos might be number two on the depth chart at the moment, but will get every opportunity to prove himself to manager Davey Johnson. The Nationals believe in creating competition. If Ramos is healthy, he and Suzuki will battle it out to see who starts. Though Suzuki did plenty to win the job last season, Washington does not want to give up on the 25 year old Ramos. The team traded for him in 2010 with full intentions of making Ramos their every day catcher and that has not changed. If Ramos can beat out Suzuki, he will start.
For now, the Nationals and Ramos are just happy to have him back in uniform. It has been a struggle for Ramos on and off of the field since the winter of 2011. In November of that year, he was kidnapped and held for ransom in his home country of Venezuela. Ramos was rescued unharmed. Nine months later, he tore up his knee and missed out on Washington’s run to the post season.
The return to the field is something that Ramos has been looking forward to. It is the reason why he underwent two surgeries and suffered through seven months of intense rehab. Ramos knows that he will have to work to get his job back and be a part of what the Nationals are building. The only way that Ramos will be able to is by proving that his knee is sound and he can catch again.
Monday was a successful start in what Ramos hopes is his permanent return to baseball.