The Washington Times - June 20, 2013, 06:58PM

Wilson Ramos is hitting, catching bullpens and doing baserunning drills in Viera, Fla., Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Thursday, and the catcher should head out on a rehab assignment within the next 10 days.

Ramos, who has twice strained his left hamstring this season and has been out since May 15 with the latest injury, is making good progress. But the Nationals are trying to be very cautious with him given the nature of his injury and the fact that he’s already re-injured himself once.

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“I think he should be playing within the next 10 days,” Johnson said. 

A week ago, the Nationals had feared that Ramos suffered another setback when he was forced to pull up during a baserunning drill. The catcher was sent for an MRI, though, and everything looked “fine,” Johnson said. The hope is that it was just pain from breaking up scar tissue.

The Nationals have missed Ramos’ presence for the better part of this season and last, which he missed after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee. Kurt Suzuki has assumed the everyday role and handled the pitching staff well, but he is hitting just .191 with four extra-base hits since Ramos went down with injury the second time.

– Johnson was hopeful he’d be able to slot outfielder Roger Bernadina into his lineup on Thursday because of his strong history against Rockies starter Roy Oswalt. But Bernadina, a late scratch on Wednesday with irritation in his left eye that was preventing him from seeing clearly, was still at the eye doctors office after 4 p.m. 

“His eyes were so bad he couldn’t find a doctors office,” Johnson quipped. 

Johnson chose to play Steve Lombardozzi in his place in left field.

– A day after he spent the majority of the game getting treatment on his back to help him get loose enough to pinch hit, Chad Tracy was available for the Nationals off the bench.

Johnson said Tracy has an “alignment issue” but he expected the trainers had a good handle on how to treat it.

– Right-hander Ryan Mattheus, who broke his hand on May 19 punching a locker in San Diego, played catch on Thursday for the first time since the injury. His timetable, however, is still lengthy.

“The bone is healed but they’re going to keep him doing (strengthening exercises),” Johnson said. “But that’s going to be a slow process.”

Because Mattheus broke his pitching hand, once he is given the green light for all activities, he’ll then have to go through what is essentially a second spring training to rebuild the arm strength he’s lost during the healing process.