PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Wilson Ramos’ successful return from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee has been one of the spring’s best storylines for the Washington Nationals. When Ramos got into his first game since injuring his knee last May, general manager Mike Rizzo said it was the best day of the spring for him.
But Ramos has rebounded so encouragingly that it has caused the team to slightly alter their plans from the offseason for the catching corps.
At the outset of the spring, the Nationals indicated that they were likely going to give veteran Kurt Suzuki the lions share of the starts when the season began, in order to allow Ramos to continue to ease back into a full workload. As the season progressed, the plan was Ramos would continue to gain more playing time.
But Ramos has already caught a full game this spring. He will catch another on Saturday afternoon against the Mets, and he and Suzuki have been alternating starts for the last week or so.
Johnson indicated on Saturday that is a good example of how he plans to use the catchers to begin the year.
“My plan is basically to continue what we’ve been doing in spring,” Johnson said, asked specifically how he planned to divide the workload.
If there was a time that Ramos was behind the other catchers in camp, it was likely only the first few days of workouts when he caught only one of three possible bullpen sessions.
Since then, he has progressed right alongside the other catchers, often doing even more, and he’s been thrilled with how his body feels after a winter spent focusing on his conditioning as he rehabbed.
The Nationals still view Ramos as the bedrock of their catching corps for years to come, but they also know they have a viable starter in Suzuki, who was an important contributor down the stretch after being acquired on Aug. 2 when Jesus Flores’ play was no longer deemed adequate.
“I look at both pretty much being on equal footing going into the year right now,” Johnson said. “Anyone gets a little problem, I’ve got a backup plan.”