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Wilson Ramos plans to make latest step by sliding

(Jonathan Netwon / The Washington Post)

The question of whether Wilson Ramos can make a full recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee and still fulfill the demands of catching remains one of the most important issues facing the Nationals this spring, for their success in 2013 and deep into the future. The early signs have been positive, and today Ramos planned to take another crucial step.

The only baseball activity he has yet to do this spring is slide, and Ramos expected to check that off the list today. Manager Davey Johnson said he had been told Ramos wouldn’t slide for another week, but Ramos this morning said he would during a workout back in Viera, as the Nationals play the Braves in Lake Buena Vista.

Sliding would represent the biggest test of Ramos’s knee yet. He has always slid feet first on his right leg. He wants to practice tucking his knee instead, to take strain off his surgically repaired knee. He expected to be scared at first, as he had been when he blocked balls for the first time. Now, he said, he can block 35 balls in a row.

Ramos believes he’s close to playing in a spring training game. When he arrived for spring training, he felt his knee had recovered to about 80 percent. After two weeks of catching bullpen sessions and blocking balls, Ramos said he feels he’s 95 percent back.

Ramos is targeting mid-March to get behind the plate in a Grapefruit League game. Johnson has been pushing Ramos to play, at least as a designated hitter. “I’ve said he’s game-ready for the last week,” Johnson said. “But what do I know?”

“I want to [play], but I have to wait,” Ramos said. “I don’t feel it.”

Yesterday, team doctors gauged Ramos’s progress by literally measuring the muscle he had rebuilt in his joint. Ramos’s right knee measured 48 centimeters around, compared the 48.5 centimeter circumference of his left knee.