The spring will be full of small milestones for Wilson Ramos, and another one came today. Ramos caught Dan Haren in a bullpen session, and then he stayed behind the plate and caught for Ryan Perry, too. He had not squatted for bullpen sessions in the same day since he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee last May.
“It’s another step,” Ramos said, smiling after today’s workout.
Both Manager Davey Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo said they have no doubt Ramos, barring a setback, will be ready for opening day. “Most definitely,” Johnson said. The Nationals plan to enter the season with Ramos as their second catcher behind Kurt Suzuki, then gain more playing time as the year wears on and his knee gains more and more strength.
“I like” his progress, Rizzo said. “It’s slow and steady. With the length of spring training this year, we’ve got the opportunity to take our time with him. He’s progressing nicely. … We’re going to pull him back. We’re going to take our time with him. He wants to go and go and go, and we’re going to be cautious with him. We want him for the long haul.”
Yesterday, Ramos had hit another important step. He blocked balls in a drill with the rest of the Nationals’ catchers, sliding forward on his knees and scooting side to side. Ramos had been highly hesitant to hit his knees. “It’s more mental,” he said.
But during the drill, “I felt nothing,” he said. It encouraged him to use his knee in a less guarded way. Today, he blocked one ball in the dirt during the bullpen sessions, rather than just flipping his glove at a low pitch as he had before.
Ramos said he’s still not as quick in his blocking movement as he was before the injury. But he feels he’ll eventually be more agile, because he lost weight this winter during his grueling rehab. “I feel lighter,” he said.
Ramos also threw to bases and took batting practice to cap a full day. In BP, Ramos’s knee has not been a factor. He’s been launching balls over the left field fence routinely.