(Al Behrman / AP)

The Nationals have missed Wilson Ramos for 53 of their 79 games this year, but today he took a significant step back toward returning from the disabled list for the second time.

Ramos began a rehab assignment at the Florida Gulf Coast League, catching three innings and taking two plate appearances at the minors’ lowest rung. Ramos grounded out to shortstop and was hit by a pitch.

The Nationals have targeted a July 4 return for Ramos, who would likely take over for Kurt Suzuki as the Nationals’ No. 1 catcher. Ramos has been performing running drills and catching bullpen sessions for more than a week. He will catch five innings tomorrow, take a day off and then move his rehab to a higher affiliate, possibly Class A Potomac.

“Every report I get, he feels great,” Johnson said. “He just needs to get some at-bats, and he should be good to go.”