Though life has returned to normal for Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos since his Nov. 9 kidnapping in his native Venezuela, in his mind there was one missing piece: He wanted to stand before the home crowd, to gauge and soak in their response upon seeing him for the first time at Nationals Park.
It was something that, admittedly, he had been anxious to do.
“I was waiting to come back here to see how the fans would receive me after what happened to me,” he said in Spanish following the Nationals’ dramatic 3-2 walkoff win in 10 innings. “I’m happy with how the fans treated me and how they applauded. That makes me feel good because I know a large portion of the fans are behind me.”
As the Nationals players were individually introduced, Ramos, 24, warmed up in right field with starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez. When his name was announced, the crowd cheered. That’s what one of the most promising pieces of the Nationals’ future needed.
Sure, Ramos has been back in Washington since his harrowing 51 hours at the hands of four men who abducted him and dragged him into a car at gunpoint at his family’s home in Valencia. After his dramatic rescue, Ramos, who was the first active major league player to be abducted, returned to the Nationals’ facility to talk with reporters and to be evaluated by team officials in November.
But Thursday was different. In a small way, it was closure, another step toward being normal, to crouch behind home plate for a regular season game for the Nationals like he has since being acquired midway through the 2010 season from the Minnesota Twins.
“For me, everything [about the kidnapping] is done,” said Ramos, who still has a reminder in the form of a tattoo on his left forearm with a Bible verse and the date of his release. “I’m focused on my job here with the team and from now on concentrating on that.”
Ramos said his family has moved elsewhere in his native country, a place he asked not be disclosed for their security. He added he was grateful that the Venezuelan government has helped with security. Asked if he felt his family and he would be safer there, he responded: “Thanks to God, I do.”
And at Nationals Park on Thursday, he did, too.