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Ryan Zimmerman tags out Andrelton Simmons on a stolen base attempt.
Wilson Ramos was absolutely beaming afterward, having successfully caught his first full game since tearing the ACL in his right knee about 10 months ago. This really was the final hurdle for Ramos to cross in his recovery. He clearly sees himself as 100 percent back from the injury.
"If I say that, anybody can believe it, but I feel better than before I got hurt," he said. "I feel more strong, I feel more alive behind the plate. I'm blocking the ball pretty good. I feel very strong behind the plate. I'm very excited for this moment."
Ramos showed off his arm during the bottom of the first inning, firing a laser to nab Andrelton Simmons trying to steal third base (though replies showed Simmons may have slid around Ryan Zimmerman's tag). Simmons had appeared to get a great jump on Dan Haren, but Ramos made up for it with his throwing mechanics.
"That's a quick reaction for me," he said. "It feels great. My arm feels good. My footwork is quicker than before, because I lost weight."
Indeed, Ramos has looked trim and fit this spring, and he's moved well both behind the plate and on the bases. He said he wakes up the morning after catching and feels no ill effects. At this point, he simply can't wait to be back there in a game that actually counts.
"I'm not thinking about my body, my knee," he said. "I'm just thinking about Opening Day. I'm working for that and just waiting for that moment." ...
Though he allowed a well-struck double to the fantastically named Joey Terdoslavich in the bottom of the eighth inning, Drew Storen otherwise pitched well. It was an important outing for the right-hander, who has struggled more than once this spring and left his manager pleading for him to do less thinking on the mound and more pitching.
"He looked more like where I wanted him," Davey Johnson said. "His rhythm was a lot better. He's had a tendency to be too deliberate, too slow, thinking too much. Today he was just getting the ball and basically throwing it. And he pitched better. He looked more like a pitcher, instead of Einstein out there trying to figure out some difficult equation." ...
The comedic highlight of the night came in the top of the second, when Tim Hudson greeted Adam LaRoche with a 47-mph knuckleball that left the Nationals first baseman calling for time and stepping out of the batter's box while he tried to stop laughing.
"It's tough when the catcher and umpire are both laughing, too," LaRoche explained. "It's hard to keep it together."
Some background: Hudson and LaRoche are former teammates and good friends, and Hudson always seems to do something off-kilter when he faces LaRoche in spring training (including once throwing the rosin bag at him). This time, LaRoche made a knuckleball motion with his hand as he stepped to the plate, then was shocked when Hudson actually threw one.
"I didn't think he would do it," LaRoche said. "I should've known better."
The surprise pitch nearly crossed the strike zone, falling just a tad too low.
"It's a new pitch I've been working on," Hudson told reporters in deadpan fashion. "I was going to wait till the All-Star break to break it out, but it's been so good lately that I'm going to start implementing it."
LaRoche did get the last laugh. After the knuckleball, he drove Hudson's next pitch into right field for a base hit.