- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos wore a backward hat, shorts and t-shirt as he slowly made his way into the clubhouse Wednesday. His bag was carefully slung across his body, resting on his back so as to be out of the way of his crutches.

Ramos’ right knee was encased in a large brace, his right leg noticeably more swollen than his left. And, while he tried, it was tough for him to put an optimistic spin on his prognosis.

“I’m not coming back this season,” he said, before adding quickly, “But I will be good for next season.”

That is the cold reality for Ramos, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Saturday night attempting to field a passed ball. His surgery has not yet been scheduled. The doctors told him they’ll wait two or three weeks for the swelling to go down before they operate, but he’s been assured it is just an ACL tear.

“They say it’s normal surgery,” Ramos said.

Ramos is one of 10 Nationals who have already been placed on the disabled list this season but no other DL stints, besides Ramos’, have cost a player the entire season.

After surviving a harrowing kidnapping this past offseason in Venezuela, Ramos talked this spring about looking forward to getting back to baseball and the grind of the season. He was looking forward to building on his strong rookie campaign and was hitting .265 with a .354 on-base percentage. He hit his third home run of the season earlier Saturday before he got hurt.

“I was so down [after the injury on Saturday],” Ramos acknowledged. “That’s a whole season. But I will take my good rehab and after that I’m going to come back and play.”

Ramos will remain in D.C. before and after surgery, he said.

“I want to stay here,” he said. “I don’t want to go back to Venezuela. It’s better if I stay here, bring my mom, my family, to take care of me.”

Storen makes 100 throws

Closer Drew Storen passed the one-month mark from surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow earlier this week. He celebrated by playing catch for the first time since before his operation.

On Wednesday, he threw for the second time since surgery, making 100 throws in the outfield at Nationals Park with trainer Lee Kuntz. Storen made 25 throws from 45 feet, 25 from 60 feet and then repeated the progression.

“It’s kind of tedious,” he said. “It’s a tedious process because you want to go out there and throw just like you did before and you can’t really do it.

“It’s like driving a Ferrari 5 miles an hour, as brutal as that would be.”

Storen said he felt weak, not because there was anything wrong but because this was the longest time he could remember he’s ever gone without throwing. Teammates have urged him to be cautious, though, as difficult as it may be, and not rush himself back. The goal for his return is still around the All-Star break.

“Hopefully no setbacks or anything like that,” he said. “I try not to think about it too much, as much as I want to, because with this process you’ve got to go a day at a time.”

Storen said it’s been extremely difficult for him to watch as first reliever Brad Lidge went down with an injury and Henry Rodriguez has began to struggle in the closing role lately.

“It’s really difficult,” Storen said, citing his own transition to the ninth inning. “It is different than the seventh and eighth inning, but your approach shouldn’t be. Mentally, you should still work out of the same. … It’s just one of those things that — you can’t close in spring training. You can’t do it anywhere else. The only way you learn to close is to close in the big leagues in the biggest spots, and I think that’s one of the things that [Rodriguez is] learning.”

Around the horn

• Michael Morse made 60 throws from 30-40 feet on Wednesday, another step for the Nationals’ left fielder in his recovery from a torn right lat muscle that has cost him the first 36 games of the season and will keep him out until June. Morse, who was cleared to take dry swings on Tuesday, said the throwing went well. “I haven’t been throwing,” Morse said. “So it was kind of like a monkey riding a bike.”

• Sandy Leon said the Nationals told him he’d be sidelined for four weeks with his high right ankle sprain. In two weeks, he will be cleared to return to activity.

• Amanda Comak can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com.

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