Wilson Ramos caught five innings today and will start again tomorrow.
At this point, there are only two more tasks for Wilson Ramos to cross off his to-do list before the Nationals break camp and before he feels like he's back to 100 percent: Catching a full, nine-inning game and catching on back-to-back days.
Ramos will have to wait a bit longer before he's cleared to do the former, but he's getting a chance to do the latter right now. After starting today's exhibition game against the Mets and playing five innings, Ramos will be back in the Nationals' lineup tomorrow against the Astros.
Manager Davey Johnson informed Ramos of the plan this morning during batting practice, and the 25-year-old couldn't hide his enthusiasm.
"I told him I'm ready to go," Ramos said. "I felt like I'm ready to catch more innings, you know? He told me that, about back-to-back games, and I got a little excited because I want to catch more."
Ramos has shown few lingering effects of his knee injury this spring, and today he looked perfectly comfortable catching all five of Jordan Zimmermann's innings on the mound. He went 0-for-2 at the plate but is still hitting .273 (3-for-11) in six total games.
More importantly, he's crossed whatever mental hurdles stood in his way when he arrived at camp, confident now his surgically repaired knee will hold up through any kind of baseball activity.
"I'm completely confident," he said. "I forget about blocking, sliding, already. I don't have any problem with that now. ... I'm doing it during the game, and it feels good. I'm not thinking about my knee now. Just go out there and play the game."
Excited as he is to catch on back-to-back days this week, Ramos is more interested in making it through an entire game for the first time.
"I want to do the next step, and the next step for me is to catch nine innings," he said. "That's what I want to do."
Ramos remains confident he'll be ready to go on Opening Day, though he won't get to make that call. Johnson has suggested in the past he plans to start Kurt Suzuki in the April 1 opener against the Marlins, using Ramos as his No. 2 catcher early in the season, but the manager wouldn't commit one way or the other when asked today who would be behind the plate in the season's first game.
"I want to be in the first game, you know?" Ramos said. "But that's a decision I can't make. The manager and Mike [Rizzo], they have to make that decision. I just want to go out there and do my best job, and they have to make the decision. I want to be able to play on Opening Day and a lot of games in the season."