Slowly, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson is loosening the reins on Wilson Ramos. On Thursday, Ramos caught a complete game — eight innings, though — for the first time since his May knee injury and surgeries. Ramos again displayed his leaner, fitter physique when he legged out groundouts down the first base line and as he snapped a throw to third base to nab a base stealer.
“I feel excited right now for this step in my career,” Ramos said. “I’m very excited right now; for the first time I play eight innings after I get surgery. I say that and anybody can believe it, I feel better than before I get hurt. I felt more strong, more relaxed behind the plate, blocking balls good.”
Johnson played Kurt Suzuki a complete game on Wednesday and now has done the same for Ramos. Ramos finished 0 for 4, but his spring batting average is at .364. His defense is progressing, even after a few dropped balls on Thursday. “He’s looked great all spring,” Johnson said. “I think he feels good about where he’s at.”
Ramos threw out Atlanta’s speedy shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the first inning when he tried to steal third. Simmons got a good jump off Dan Haren but Ramos flashed his strong arm and nimble feet, and Simmons was called out.
“My arm feels good,” Ramos said. “My footwork is good, a little more quicker than before because I lose weight and feel my footwork is more better than before.”
In his mind, Ramos said the next step is to play back-to-back nine inning games. That could come soon but not immediately since Johnson has been slow to ease Ramos back into action. “We don’t make the decision,” Ramos said. “If I have to do that, I will be ready for it.” And beyond that, Ramos’s sights are also set on being ready to play on opening day, if he is called upon.
Ramos said the mornings after he has played this spring his leg and knee don’t feel tired, sore or painful. “I just feel very excited and I feel nothing in my body and I just say, ‘Let’s go. I’m ready to play.’”
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FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
The Nationals are at home hosting the Tigers again. No lineup has been posted yet but Roger Bernadina is starting in center field, his first start since returning from nearly a month away because of the World Baseball Classic.
DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY