(Jonathan Newton/TWP) (Jonathan Newton/TWP)

The day after Wilson Ramos finalized the physical toil of returning to his position, he moved on to the mental challenge. Ramos caught three innings yesterday, the first time he squatted behind home plate in a game since May 12, the day he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee. “I was waiting for this day,” Ramos said. “That’s my job.”

The milestone only showed Ramos the next phase of his recovery. He wants to relearn how the members of the Nationals’ pitching staff operate and also find common ground with Dan Haren, the newcomer he caught yesterday.

“I have a lot of work to do,” Ramos said. “Maybe the pitchers changed how they like to throw. We got Dan, a new guy. I need to stay on the same page. At this point now, that’s the plan.

“Now I feel my knee is strong. I know I have to take care of my knee, but I have to put my mind in those guys. When you stay behind the plate and the pitcher shakes me off, it doesn’t look good. That’s what I have to worry about now.”

Ramos passed every physical test yesterday. He lost weight during his rehab, and he said he actually feels more agile behind the plate. Haren threw two pitches in the dirt, and Ramos blocked them both. On one, he slid quickly on his right knee and fielded the pitch cleanly on a bounce.

“That was the moment I was waiting for,” Ramos said.

Ramos could appreciate how far he had come. “That was a big day,” he said. But he is a baseball player again, and part of being a baseball player means seeking the next task, not looking back.

“I got a lot of work to do now,” Ramos said.