Wilson Ramos, iron man catcher

September 3, 2013

Wilson Ramos (Alex Brandon/AP)

Wilson Ramos listed the places on his body that are bruised – ankle, knees, chest, hands – and then stopped. He realized it would probably be easier to name what had not been hit by a foul tip or a ball in the dirt.

“I tell everybody if you want to be a catcher, you need to be ready for that,” Ramos said. “It’s not an easy position.”

Catching is even harder when you do it as much as Ramos has lately. Tonight in Philadelphia, Ramos is starting for the 12th straight game. Ramos has carried the load after he twice strained his left hamstring this season, two trips to the disabled list that came after he returned from knee surgery. Despite the dings and dents, he’s happy about it.

“After I missed so many games, I want to play a lot,” Ramos said. “I want to play as much as I can right now for this team. I want to play every day, because it makes me more consistent. I know better my pitchers. I’m more patient when I’m hitting. I feel better when I play every day. Right now, it feels good. My leg feels good.”

Before Ramos homered in his first at-bat Tuesday night, he had gone 7 for 41 with one double and one homer over his first 11 consecutive games behind the plate. Ramos insisted he felt strong and the wear had not affected him at the plate.

“No, this happens,” Ramos said. “It’s normal. I think the better I feel by playing more often, I feel more consistent in seeing more pitches and stuff.

The Nationals are playing Ramos non-stop, but they also want him to be careful. Since he returned from a hamstring strain July 4 that caused him to miss 50 games, the Nationals have instructed him not to run out groundballs at full speed. When he trots to first base, it is by the team’s orders.

“It’s hard. I want to get a couple infield singles,” Ramos said, chuckling. “I know I’m not a fast runner. I don’t want to lose [more] time trying to get an infield single.”

The Nationals want Ramos to play with caution for the same reason they keep playing him every day. He has a dramatic and positive influence on the pitching staff, and his powerful bat lengthens the Nationals’ lineup. Ramos has not felt any extra from catching.

“I got a lot of games straight, and my leg feels good,” Ramos said. “It doesn’t feel tired. That’s good news.”

It’s the rest of his body, almost every part of it, that isn’t feeling so great.

“It’s very hard,” Ramos said. “That’s the position. You got to be ready for that. Every catcher needs to be ready to be hit every day, every moment. You need to be strong.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.
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James Wagner · September 3, 2013

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