Wilson Ramos walked out to the diamond adjacent to Space Coast Stadium this morning with one final step to take, and he returned to the clubhouse as a complete baseball player again. Out on the field, Ramos slid. “That’s the last one,” he said. There are no more baseball activities he hasn’t done in his recovery from ACL and meniscus surgery.
Ramos has performed every move a catcher may have to make on a baseball field. Afterward, sitting at his locker, Ramos wore what that meant to him all over his face. He grinned to the point of breaking into a chuckle, shaking his head.
“No more scared,” Ramos said. “It’s funny. I’m [expletive] happy, bro.”
Ramos has been worried about how his right knee would respond to the punishment of sliding. He had been catching bullpen sessions and blocking balls, but sliding would test the strength most. On Friday, team physician Wiemi Douoguih flew in from Washington to put his hands on Ramos’s knee and test its strength.
Douoguih reported his findings to Richard Steadman, the Colorado orthopedist who performed Ramos’s surgery last July. Steadman, Douoguih and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz cleared Ramos to slide.
“I tried to get word to him, ‘When you slide, just land'” on your backside, Manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t care what leg he’s bending, if he lands on his [backside], he’s covered. I know he’s chomping at the bit.”
Ramos had been afraid of the effect sliding would have on his knee. On the outfield grass, sliding on a mat, he slid while landing on the right half of his lower body, his knee hitting the ground. He felt the same as ever.
“I will sleep better today,” he said.
Ramos, then, could appear in a spring training game as a designated hitter this coming week. Ryan Zimmerman is down to DH on Sunday, and the Nationals are off Monday. Ramos will do more sliding drills Sunday, and he may enter a game as early as Tuesday.
“I’m excited for that,” Ramos said. “A little bit scared, too.”
Before he went sliding today, Ramos crushed balls in batting practice. There has been an overlooked aspect to Ramos’s recovery from surgery. He changed his body, getting leaner and losing weight.
“I feel more agile, a little bit more light, a little more quick behind the plate,” Ramos said. “I want to feel that during the game. Now, during the bullpen, I just sit down, do some blocking. It’s not the same when you’re behind the plate during the game. I want to see how it feels when I have to react, throw to first base.”
That will come soon enough. For now, with one more step behind him, he’s just feeling happy.
>>> Rafael Soriano throw his second session live batting practice this morning back in Viera. He is scheduled to make his spring debut Tuesday against the Astros. “I felt good,” Soriano said. “I’m ready to go.”
>>> Douoguih also planned to look at the strain between Christian Garcia’s right wrist and forearm. The Nationals shut down Garcia for a 10-14 day period, and Garica is still unsure when he will start throwing again. The pain has not gone away, Garcia said, but it has dissipated.
>>> There’s no lineup posted yet for Sunday’s game, when Johnson plans to play most of his regulars. Here are the scheduled pitchers, though: