Backup catchers help out in camp by keeping pitchers’ arms warm

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That attitude pervades the Nationals’ catching corps. As Maldonado notes, all the extra work is simply “part of the job,” and if nothing else they all seem to relish the challenge.

This group in particular shares a special bond, with culture and language fostering a deeper camaraderie among the five catchers in camp. All but Solano are natives of Venezuela, and Solano was signed out of a tryout camp in that country after crossing the border from his native Colombia. All five also are bilingual, able to communicate easily with just about everyone on the team, but in their frequent conversations among themselves, they stick with Spanish.

“Five Latin catchers — it’s fun,” said Solano. “It’s fun because we’re talking during practice or in the clubhouse about our history, playing winter ball and all that stuff. It’s a good group.”

Their discussions are seemingly never-ending, from Ramos and Flores filling in the gaps in their already broad base of knowledge to Leon starting almost from scratch. And it is, “almost,” for Leon caught one of Stephen Strasburg’s rehab starts for Potomac last season. (“Amazing,” he said, his eyes brightening at the months-old memory.)

In Leon’s ideal world — and Solano‘s, and Maldonado’s — he would be the regular catcher for Strasburg and the rest of the Nationals’ staff when the games really matter. That won’t happen anytime soon for any of that trio, but they’ll all keep putting in the work in supporting roles every morning, preparing for the day that it might.

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