Will Winter Ball Help Wilson Ramos With The Washington Nationals In 2014?

By James Williams
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals starting catcher Wilson Ramos played in only 78 games last year due to two hamstring injuries that set him back a bit. Many in the Nationals’ front office thought the Ramos would return home to Venezeula and take some rest.

Well while it is indeed tempting to hang out by the pool and have a nice cool beverage, that just does not appeal to Ramos.  He was not pleased with his play in 2013 and wants to start the season in 2014 in perfect playing shape.

So, he is playing winter ball with the Tigres de Aragua. Thus far, he has only served as a designated hitter, but he might be tempted to catch a few games. In just a week’s worth of playing, he is hitting .273, but he is having fun and working hard on his stance and his ability to hit to all fields.

Ramos’ most recent game was a 10-4 Tigres’ win over the Cardenales de Lara, he was 2-for-3 with two walks on Friday night, leaving him 5-for-11 with three walks and two Ks in three games for. He couldn’t play in Venezuela last winter, but he did play in his home country in 2011 even after the headline-grabbing kidnapping drama he endured that November.

Coming off a .267/.334/.445, 15 HR, 3.0 fWAR season in 2011 in his first full year with the Nats, Ramos went 19-for-87 with two doubles and a home run in 25 games for the Tigres.

The Nationals feel that Ramos is their everyday catcher, and they like the way he handles the pitchers as well as his improved hitting. However, look for Washington to add another catcher to the mix for a little insurance given Ramos’ history for injuries. It is the teams hope that 2014 is both a healthy and a productive year for the young man who has shown so much promise over the past few years.

Former Nationals manager Davey Johnson thought that Ramos could be one of the best catchers in the NL because of his ability to work so well with the pitching staff, his high quality defense and his power. So for Ramos, getting some extra hitting in while playing a little winter ball might just be what he needs to get off to a strong start in 2014 for the Nationals.

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