Associated Press photo
Wilson Ramos receives help from Nationals trainers after injuring his right knee.
A Nationals club that already has been forced to overcome several significant injuries will have to overcome yet another one after catcher Wilson Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the seventh inning of Saturday night's 2-1 win in Cincinnati.
Ramos' knee buckled while trying to corral a ball that got away from him near the plate, and he immediately collapsed in a heap. After spending several minutes on the ground, head trainer Lee Kuntz and assistant trainer Mike McGowan helped the 24-year-old carefully walk off the field, not putting any weight on his right leg.
Ramos underwent an MRI to determine the extent of the injury, and Nationals manager Davey Johnson confirmed to reporters in Cincinnati this morning that the catcher will need surgery to repair a torn ACL. Ramos will miss most, if not all, of the rest of the season.
Jesus Flores finished the game and will take over as the Nationals' No. 1 catcher when Ramos is placed on the disabled list as expected. The 27-year-old, who had been considered the organization's long-term answer behind the plate until a major shoulder injury sidelined him nearly two years, had been seen as a possible trade chip.
Now, though, the Nationals will need to ask Flores to re-assume the everyday job while also finding a new backup. The most likely in-house candidate for a promotion seemed to be Carlos Maldonado, the 33-year-old veteran who is hitting .231 with two homers at Class AAA Syracuse. Maldonado has 25 games of big-league experience with the Pirates 2006-07) and Nationals (2010).
The Nationals, though, instead purchased 23-year-old Sandy Leon's contract from Class AA Harrisburg, which is playing in nearby Akron this weekend. Widely considered the best defensive catcher in Washington's farm system, Leon is hitting .319 in 27 games but had not spent any time above Class A prior this season.
Ramos will become the latest key player off the Nationals' roster to miss time due to injury. Already this season, they've seen third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, left fielder Michael Morse, center fielder Rick Ankiel, right fielder Jayson Werth, utilityman Mark DeRosa, No. 5 starter Chien-Ming Wang, closer Drew Storen and setup man Brad Lidge spend time on the DL. First baseman Adam LaRoche also missed four games with a minor oblique injury.
Despite all that, the Nationals now own a 21-12 record, best in the NL East.