Wilson Ramos’s successful rehab from right knee surgery remains one of the brightest storylines from Nationals’ spring training, but it has turned from a happy subplot to a significant development for the Nationals’ early-season plans. Ramos has made such a rapid and complete recovery it convinced the Nationals to change how often they play him and Kurt Suzuki.
Manager Davey Johnson indicated this morning Ramos and Suzuki will split playing time evenly to start the season. The Nationals, it seems, will have co-starting catchers, a change of plans from the winter, when Nationals officials said they planned to play Suzuki roughly two-thirds of games as Ramos eased his way back from the torn ACL and meniscus he suffered last May.
Ramos, though, already is playing full games, and he has practiced at the same pace of the Nationals’ other catchers since early in camp. As Johnson played his regular starts this past week, he alternated on a daily basis between Ramos and Suzuki. Johnson plans to have them share duties for the Nationals’ exhibition Friday at Nationals Park.
“I look at them both pretty much being on equal footing into the year,” Johnson said. “I plan basically to continue what we’re doing this spring.”
The planned timeshare speaks to how well Ramos recovered. Through his rehab, Ramos has lost weight and become more agile now than before he tore his ligaments. He feels better about his defense and conditioning, too.
Last season, Suzuki became the Nationals’ everyday catcher after coming over in a trade from Oakland. He replaced Jesus Flores and thrived down the stretch. Even as Suzuki established himself, the Nationals still considered Ramos, 25, their catcher of the future. Still, they were happy to have Suzuki under team control for 2013, too, because they expected Ramos to have a slow return.
Johnson, though, expected Ramos to emerge healthy this spring.
“Knowing Ramos the way I did, I felt like he would be very aggressive in his conditioning,” Johnson said. “He may be a little bit behind as far as the catching stuff, and I thought also the mental stuff, he’d be on pretty good restrictions. But [team trainers] lifted those pretty quick. He’s been doing everything everybody else is doing from Day 1.”