One week ago, back when Wilson Ramos had only caught a dozen consecutive games, Manager Davey Johnson had a message for him. “I’m going to stay with you,” Johnson told him. “I know you want to play. If you’re tired or anything is bothering you, you let me know and I won’t write you in the lineup.”
Ramos had not said anything, and so he kept playing. Today, Ramos walked into Johnson’s office and told him he had a goal: “I want to catch more games in a row than anybody in baseball.” Johnson plans to let him.
Johnson plans to start Ramos again tomorrow in a day game following a night game, which would be his 20th consecutive start. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina holds the 2013 mark for most consecutive games started at catcher with 22. After he missed 65 games on the disabled list with two different left hamstring strains, Ramos is becoming an iron catcher.
“He’s pretty strong and I need him in the lineup,” Johnson said.
Ramos has not played a lot. He has played well. In 192 plate appearances since he came off the DL on July 4, Ramos has hit .284/.313/.481 with 10 homers. Ramos’s handling of the pitching staff has been even more valuable.
Last night, Ramos wiped out two would-be base stealers. His “pop time” – the time it took between him catching the ball and it reaching second base – was 1.88 seconds and 1.86 seconds on those throws, bench coach Randy Knorr said. It pretty much does not get any better than that.
While Ramos has become an automatic decision for Johnson, he made a couple other interesting moves with tonight’s lineup. As Bryce Harper returns, he will hit cleanup for the third time this season, slotted behind Jayson Werth. “Give J-W a little more protection with a left-handed bat behind him,” Johnson said. “Generally, you put your best hitter in the three hole. I think it’s quite obvious he’s my best hitter.”
I told Wilson he’s missed two years, so he’s had a lot of rest. I told him a week ago. I said, ‘I’m going to stay with you. I know you want to play. If you’re tired or anything is bothering you, you let me know and I won’t write you in the lineup.’ Today, he came in and said, ‘I want to catch more games in a row than anybody in baseball.’ I said, ‘That would be good since you’ve missed two years.’ But he’s pretty strong and I need him in the lineup.
Johnson has been alternating Steve Lombardozzi and Anthony Rendon at second base, mainly in an effort to keep Rendon fresh. Because of injury, Rendon has surpassed by a wide margin the biggest workload of his career. As to how either gets in the lineup each night, even Johnson isn’t sure.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Johnson said. “I just look sometimes at the stat sheet and use Earl Weaver’s line. This guy hits him better because that guy can’t hit him. That kind of thing. Rendon, this is the most games he’s ever played in his life. He’s not on an innings limit, but I’m taking it easy on him.”