NEW YORK — Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos entered the 2014 season with ambitious goals of staying healthy and setting career highs in games played and at-bats. But in the first game of the season against the New York Mets, Ramos was removed after suffering a hand injury on a foul tip.
The team said Monday that X-rays of his hand were negative, but it was concerned enough to send Ramos, who has been snakebitten by injuries in recent seasons, home to Washington to see a hand specialist Tuesday for a more conclusive diagnosis.
According to a person close to Ramos, however, the catcher fractured a bone in his left hand. Another person close to Ramos, a friend and his public relations assistant in Venezuela, said on Twitter that she spoke with Ramos and that he told her he suffered a fracture.
Nationals Manager Matt Williams said the team was considering calling up a backup catcher while Ramos is evaluated. The Nationals have a day off Tuesday.
“We have a lot of little bones in there, so we have to make sure,” Williams said. “. . . Our X-rays say negative as we speak. So we’ll get a further test on it and take a look.”
Williams said Ramos, 26, suffered the injury on a foul tip during the game. The right-handed batter then felt more pain while he was hitting. Ramos went 0 for 3, swinging the bat only once, when he fouled off a pitch, during his final at-bat before being replaced by backup Jose Lobaton.
Ramos has played only 103 games over the past two seasons because of knee surgery in 2012 and two hamstring strains in 2013. When he did play last season, he was an all-around force, and he hoped to play as much as possible in 2014. Last season, he hit .272, drove in 59 runs and hit 16 home runs in only 78 games. In games he started, the Nationals went 48-29, a .623 winning percentage.
“He works really hard,” Williams said. “Anybody, you don’t want to see [injuries] anytime but especially on opening day. We’ll see where we’re at, and we’ll send him to our guy and have him take a look at it.”
Before he left the game, Ramos warned Lobaton to get ready because his hand was hurting. After Lobaton, the emergency catcher was infielder Kevin Frandsen, who technically appeared in the game in the seventh inning but didn’t take an at-bat because Williams pulled him back as a managerial tactic. If the Nationals call up a reinforcement, Class AAA Syracuse catcher Jhonathan Solano would be a likely option.
“[I feel] bad,” said Lobaton, who was unaware of the extent of Ramos’s injury. “He’s a friend.”
Lobaton, 29, was acquired in a mid-February trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for added depth behind Ramos. He is coming off the best season of his career in 2013, when he played in a career-high 100 games for the American League East-winning Rays, hit .249 with seven home runs and a .714 on-base plus slugging percentage and was known for his ability to handle a pitching staff.
Marfa Mata — a close friend of Ramos’s and his public relations assistant in Venezuela — wrote on Twitter that she spoke directly with Ramos and he told her that he suffered a bone fracture in his left hand. “Was wilson who told me that. We will wait more information about it,” Mata wrote.
“That’s our brother,” center fielder Denard Span said. “You never want to see any of your teammates hurt. Hopefully all you can do is just pray that everything is good and he has a clean bill of health. He’s a huge part of our team, and hopefully he’s not out for an extended period of time.”