The Nationals placed Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list today after he strained his left hamstring Saturday, adding another small slice of misfortune to the catcher’s string of setbacks and turning Kurt Suzuki from a part-time starter into a temporary stalwart.
Ramos returned this spring after a grueling rehabilitation from the torn ACL and meniscus he suffered last May, a season-ending injury that followed his kidnapping ordeal in November 2011. Having earned the nod as the Nationals’ opening day catcher, Ramos must now wait as his hamstring heals.
“It’s kind of like piling on, almost,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.
There is, though, one silver lining. The Nationals do not believe Ramos, who declined to comment this morning, will miss more than the necessary 15 days with the strain.
“We don’t think it’s too serious, but it’s not something we want to push,” Rizzo said. “It could linger on and may become a long-term issue for him. We’re thinking that once he gets off the DL, he should be ready to play for us.”
The Nationals may have even vacillated whether or not to place Ramos on the DL at all. They summoned Jhonatan Solano from Class AAA Syracuse to serve as Suzuki’s backup. This morning, after a 4 a.m. wake-up call to make his flight from Syracuse to Washington, Solano waited 20 minutes in the family room across from the Nationals’ clubhouse, adhering to the rule prohibiting teams from having more than 25 active players in the clubhouse at once.
“But I’m here,” said Solano, who went 11 for 35 with two homers in 12 major league games last year. “I’m going to take my opportunity to play.”
The Nationals had formed a two-headed catching tandem with Suzuki and Ramos that gave them one of the most productive catching situations in baseball. Ramos was 6 for 20 with three home runs and two walks before he hurt himself trying to beat out a grounder in the eighth inning Saturday. Suzuki is 3 for 13 with a homer and four walks.
“You try to do your best to pick up the slack when Wilson is on the DL,” Suzuki said. “It’s unfortunate. We had a pretty good thing going. For something like that to happen, it sucks.”
Ramos’s injury on Saturday was not related to his major knee injury – it was his left hamstring and the ligaments in his right knee. But the Nationals prepared themselves in event Ramos suffered a setback with their trade for Suzuki shortly after the non-waiver trade deadline last August.
“It’s a great situation to be in,” Rizzo said. “We feel he’s a No. 1 catcher, to step in and play when one of them goes down. It’s a good feeling to have. That was the reason we acquired him.”
Manager Davey Johnson was not made available for comment pregame, but Suzuki will presumably take the reins as the Nationals’ everyday catcher. Down the stretch last fall, Suzuki was happy to squat behind the plate every day.
“Ever since last year, Davey knows,” Suzuki said. “He doesn’t need to ask if I’m good. I’ll be good to go.”
Solano, then, will likely become the backup. In frigid Syracuse, Solano, 27, began the year 3 for 20 with a walk. Monday in Miami, where he made his big league debut last year, he can visit with his brother, Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano.
After he departed on his flight this morning, Solano’s wife hopped in the car and drove to Washington with the couple’s 21-month-old baby girl. “She don’t know what’s going on,” Solano said. “But she’s happy.”