Nationals catcher and opening day cleanup hitter Wilson Ramos will likely undergo hamate bone surgery on his left hand Wednesday morning, according to multiple people familiar with situation. The procedure would sideline the Nationals’ bedrock catcher for more than a month and affect him once he returns.
After he received a MRI on Tuesday, Ramos will visit specialist Kenneth Means in Baltimore for a final opinion. If Means determiness Ramos needs surgery, as expected, Ramos could miss up to eight weeks and experience diminished power at the plate once he returns.
Hamate bone injuries are common in baseball. Recovery tends to take four to eight weeks. Many players require longer to recapture their power once they return.
Ramos exited Monday’s season opener with a left hand injury. Ramos also recently complained of wrist discomfort. Before one of the Nationals’ final spring training games, Ramos wore a large ice wrap around his left hand. At that time, Ramos dismissed soreness as nothing to worry about.
The Nationals have yet to announce the results of Ramos’s examination. General Manager Mike Rizzo didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Ramos is believed to have suffered the injury on a foul tip during Monday’s season opener, Manager Matt Williams said after the game. The right-handed batter felt more pain while he was hitting. During his final at-bat of the game in the seventh inning, Ramos swung only once, watched fastballs go by and struck out looking. He was replaced in the bottom of the inning by backup Jose Lobaton, who the Nationals acquired in a mid-February trade to upgrade its catching depth behind Ramos.
During Monday’s game, a person close to Ramos said the catcher believed he had a fractured bone in his left hand. Before he left the game, Ramos even told Lobaton to start warming up because he was going to come out because of the pain.
After the game, Williams said initial x-rays on Ramos’s hand returned negative, but the team showed immediate concern. They sent Ramos to a specialist on Tuesday and were planned to summon a backup catcher to New York as reinforcement. The Nationals planned as of late Monday to call up Class AA Harrisburg catcher Sandy Leon, who has appeared 14 major league games over the past two seasons.
Should Ramos miss considerable time, the Nationals will rely primarily on Lobaton as their starter. Lobaton started 76 games last season for the Rays, who made the playoffs as the AL’s top wild card team. Also used frequently used as a pinch hitter, the switch-hitting Lobaton batted .249/.320/.394. The Nationals rate his ability to frame pitches highly.
Bench coach Randy Knorr, who coaches the catchers, said during a Tuesday morning appearance on 106.7 FM, that he was concerned about Ramos. Knorr said Ramos had told him that his wrist felt funny after a swing in the final week of spring training. Ramos’s final at-bat of Monday’s game further concerned Knorr.
“For Wilson Ramos to come out of the game, it just doesn’t look good,” Knorr said. “I try to stay positive. Go to the doctor, maybe it’s not as bad as people think it is. Maybe it is two or three days. I try to stay that way, but in my mind, just seeing guys in my career, it just doesn’t look good.”
Ramos has endured horrendous luck over the past few seasons. He was kidnapped in his native Venezuela in 2011. He played in just 103 games over the past two seasons because of knee surgery in 2012 and hamstring strains in 2013. The Nationals believe that Ramos is one healthy season away from becoming one of the best five catchers in baseball. But, only one game into the season, Ramos uncannily suffered another setback.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen worse luck,” one Nationals official said.