CINCINNATI — Behind the batting cage Friday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, as the sun dipped behind the stands Wilson Ramos chatted with one of the Cincinnati Reds’ trainers. The conversation was fairly brief, and it ended with a hug.
Then Ramos, the Washington Nationals’ catcher, made his way back over to his teammates and resumed stretching for batting practice with them.
He was just a few feet from the spot on the grass where his 2012 season ended.
Saturday, he was starting at catcher for the Nationals, back behind the same plate that lay just to his left when the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee gave out last May.
He couldn’t have been more proud of himself.
“I’m happy to be here again,” Ramos said in the hallway of the visitors’ clubhouse Saturday morning. “It’s almost a year since I got hurt in this stadium and I’m not thinking about that. I’m not scared to play here again.
“I’m just happy to be here again. I will go out there and try to do my best.”
With all that Ramos had gone through in the winter before the 2012 season began, mentally recovering from his harrowing kidnapping incident in Venezuela, watching him collapse on the grass in Cincinnati last May was one of the most difficult moments of the 2012 season for many people.
“I was really shocked,” manager Davey Johnson recalled. “I saw him go back, the ball wasn’t even 10 or 15 feet away from him. He went back and turned around and then he collapsed. It was a freak accident.”
Ramos said his return to this ballpark and this city did not come with any anxiety or remorse over what happened last year. He greeted the trip more with an upbeat sentiment.
Yes, this is where he got hurt. Yes, this is where his 2012 season ended. But he’s here. He’s playing. He’s healthy.
“I’m just thinking, ‘I am back,’” Ramos said. “I don’t care about last year. Most importantly, I am back and ready to play.”
Yup. Yeah it’s more like you say. I’m just thinking ‘I am back.’ I don’t care about last year. Most importantly, I am back and ready to play.
Ramos said he’s felt great since the season began, feeling strength in his knee and the rest of his slimmed-down body. He will catch Ross Detwiler on Saturday.
“I don’t think (the injury will be on his mind),” Johnson said. “I’m sure next time he goes back for a ball like that, he’ll go down on all fours and slide to it, rather than twist around and tear up his knee.”