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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 11/18/2011

Nationals’ Wilson Ramos back in Washington, thanks fans for support

Wilson Ramos walked this morning through the third floor at Nationals Park, the executive offices, and into General Manager Mike Rizzo’s office. He had returned to the United States on Thursday night, eight days after he had been abducted at gunpoint outside his home, six days after Venezuelan commandoes rescued him.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, left, embraces rookie second baseman Steve Lombardozzi, right, after a short news conference a few days after Ramos was rescued from kidnapers in his home country of Venezuela. (John McDonnell - THE WASHINGTON POST)
“It was great, seeing him happy,” Rizzo said. “He had big smile on his face like he usually does. We sat down, relaxed, talked baseball. It’ll be all baseball from here on out.”

Ramos came to Nationals Park to visit with Nationals team doctors and, in a larger sense, to find another layer of closure for his harrowing kidnapping. Rizzo called a small news conference today with Ramos “an exclamation point, finality to the incident. We’re happy it’s in our past.”

The doctors found Ramos in “terrific” shape, Rizzo said. Ramos issued a brief statement to reporters, thanking fans who prayed for him and held a vigil outside the park last Friday night. He will return to Venezuela and plans to begin playing in Venezuela winter league games Tuesday. He intends to return behind the plate for the Nationals, still one of the best young catchers in baseball and brightest pieces of the Nationals future.

“See you in spring training,” Ramos said.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, left, and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo answer questions from reporters. (John McDonnell - THE WASHINGTON POST)
While in Venezuela, the Nationals and MLB will put in place extra security measures. While the Nationals recommended – but did not demand – their two American players in Venezuela return home, Rizzo did not ask Ramos to stay in the States.

“I had no second thoughts,” Rizzo said. “He plays for his country, in his country. He’s very prideful about his country, and he feels safe there. He plays for his country. He plays in front of his family. We can’t ask him not to do that.”

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman lingered around the clubhouse, taking a short break from his weightlifting session. He gave Ramos a hug and rubbed his head, and both players smiled.

“We’re glad to have him back,” Zimmerman said.

By  |  12:49 PM ET, 11/18/2011

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