- - Monday, June 25, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There is a lot of light blue gear in and around the clubhouse locker of Wilson Ramos, the burly catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.

There are blue hats, blue polo shirts, blue cleats and blue towels, and that make sense since Navy blue and Columbia blue are two of the official colors of the Rays.

But Nationals fans have good memories of Ramos wearing red for the club from 2010-16. He was part of the 2014 postseason team and appeared in the All-Star game in San Diego in 2016.

And Ramos, nicknamed “The Buffalo” by former Nationals teammate Ian Desmond, is well aware there is always the possibility he could return to the Nationals in a trade.

Ramos is a free agent after this season. Washington is getting very little offensive production from its catchers and could be looking for an upgrade for the postseason drive.

“I am not thinking about that right now. I am trying to concentrate and do my job here. This organization has given me a great opportunity here,” Ramos told The Washington Times before the Rays (37-40) hosted the Nationals (41-35) on Monday night.

Ramos was in the starting lineup Monday as the catcher and cleanup hitter.

“I know in this business that can happen,” he added. “If that happens … I will have to go somewhere and do my job. If I would go back there I would be happy because I have good memories of that team and very good relationships with my teammates, the whole organization. Like I say I don’t have command of that (possible trade). We will have to wait and see what happens.”

The Nationals are without starting catcher Matt Wieters (hamstring), who has been on the disabled list since May 11 and there is no timetable for his return. He has played in only 23 games.

Former backup Pedro Severino has become the regular catcher, but is hitting .178 with no homers and a slugging mark of .230 in 152 at-bats. Backup catcher Spencer Kieboom is hitting .212 with no homers and a slugging mark of .242 in 33 at-bats.

Combined, Wieters, Severino and Kieboom have just 10 doubles, 19 RBI and three homers in 250 at-bats this season. For comparison, journeyman catcher Erik Kratz, acquired by Milwaukee from the New York Yankees one month ago, has three homers in only 37 at-bats for the Brewers.

Ramos was hitting .289 with nine doubles, nine homers and 36 RBI in 235 at-bats for the Rays in games through Sunday.

Tampa manager Kevin Cash was pushing Ramos for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game that will be held at Nationals Park on July 17.

“I think Wilson is deserving,” Cash told The Tampa Bay Times this past weekend.

“I think he’s a clear choice,” Rays pitcher and Monday’s starter Blake Snell told the paper. “He’s got pop and he runs pretty good for a catcher. Sometimes you don’t see it but for a catcher he runs pretty well. And then there’s how he calls a game. He’s a great player.”

And of course, Ramos has caught most of the Nationals’ current pitchers, including Tuesday’s starter Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, along with relievers Sammy Solis and Matt Grace.

Ramos was at Nationals Park with the Rays June 5-6 and got a nice ovation from the fans when he came to the plate for the first time June 5.

“It was a very exciting moment for me,” he said. “I grew up in that organization. They gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues (as a regular). I (was) very happy to see some of my ex-teammates.”

The Venezuela native served as mentor for Severino, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015. Ramos was traded to the Nationals by the Minnesota Twins during the 2010 season in one of the best deals by Washington general manager Mike Rizzo.

“The communication between the pitcher and catcher is very important,” Ramos said. “You have to be on the same page. (Severino) is really good behind the plate.”

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