Friday, March 29, 2013

Ramos to start Opening Day, Rodriguez makes team

Photo by USA Today

With their exhibition schedule now in the books, the Nationals have sorted out their final roster decisions. Manager Davey Johnson announced on Friday Wilson Ramos will start at catcher on Opening Day and that relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez will make the 25-man roster.

Ramos is slated to catch the first game with Kurt Suzuki taking over on Wednesday to catch Gio Gonzalez. Johnson said he looks at both Ramos and Suzuki as number one catchers and the two will alternate depending on the pitcher. 

The 25-year-old Ramos in some ways completes an almost year-long comeback from tearing the ACL in his right knee last May. He started last Opening Day after finishing fourth in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 2011.

Johnson approached Ramos during batting practice on Friday to share the news.

“I have been waiting for this moment,” Ramos said. “I was sliding, I was working to get my job back. This is a very exciting day for me.”

“The last ten or 11 months I have worked hard for this moment.”

Johnson explained the decision in part as a reward for Ramos’ perseverance and hard work. He saw Ramos the day he suffered the injury and was amazed at the shape he was in when pitchers and catchers reported back in February.

“The progress he’s made with rehabbing himself after being out all year, he’s been rehabbing hard and looked great all spring,” Johnson said. 

“Just kind of a carrot for hard work.”

Ramos earned the nod after a terrific spring at the plate. In 14 games this spring, Ramos hit .333 with two home runs, five RBI, and 12 total hits. He says his knee sometimes feels even better than it did before.

“It feels great right now, I feel like 100 percent. That’s the most important thing now for me.”

Johnson chose Rodriguez to finalize his roster over left-handed reliever J.C. Romero. Romero will likely be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse in the coming days.

Rodriguez earns a roster spot after undergoing elbow surgery in late August. He returned for the Nats this spring and produced mixed results. In 9 2/3 innings he held a 3.72 ERA with seven strikeouts, but walked eleven batters along the way. He got through the sixth inning on Friday with no runs across despite allowing a walk to Brett Gardner.

It wasn’t pretty as is rarely is for Rodriguez, but he lit up the radar gun with high 90s heat and even made New York’s Eduardo Nunez nearly fall down on a curveball. He once again flashed talent that has both teased and tormented Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo over the last three seasons.

“He’s got outstanding stuff,” Johnson said. “He’s not someone you can give up on easy.”

Davey believes the elbow surgery could in the long run help out with Rodriguez’ wild tendencies.

“He only started getting wild last year, I’m sure the elbow was bothering him with the bone chip in there.”

Johnson was asked whether being wild can help a pitcher and he acknowledged it can make batters feel uneasy at the plate.

“When you throw that hard and you do occasionally let one go, there not comfortable up there. No one is comfortable up there. Just ask the second baseman for the Braves how he feels about it.”

The Nationals will announce the official Opening Day roster on Sunday.


MurrayTheRed said...

I like this! Both of these announcements are good news to me.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

I would like nothing better than a legitimate chance to resurrect "PFB."

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

OK, there are.lots of things I would like better. It's just a figure of speech.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

In fact, it might be fun to have a PFB-PFF meter for MPH-Rod's outings.

0 = ↓ Pretty Frickin' Feo
10 = ↑Pretty Frickin' Bueno

Maybe we can guest it on NatsLady's blog?

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

BTW, good picture, Chase.

Drew said...

My condolences to the backstop -- and I don't mean Wilson.

Last year Henry Rodriguez tied for third-worst in the National League with 10 wild pitches -- and he did it in 29 innings!!

Why would you entrust the Hope Diamond to Jethro Bodine?


sjm308 said...

Just a little surprised but not really. Davey has supported Henry most of the spring. Have to admit that when he came in today the crowd around me did sit up and pay a little more attention. He did fine and that curve was one of the reasons I do enjoy him when he is on. I wonder how many actual bad outings he will have to have before Davey makes a move? Good Luck Henry!

Tcostant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tcostant said...

Ramos can't catch balls from the IF either...

Nattering Nat said...

As much as I am a Suzuki fan, that is the right decision. Suzuki can handle it, Ramos is rewarded, sends the right message, etc. And they will get co-equal playing time. As for Henry, the subject has been beaten to a pulp. BUt yet, there he is, still standing. I imagine his leash is going to be very short, now that his erraticism will count in the standings again, so Romero should not unpack his suitcase at Syracuse....

Donald said...

As much as Davey says it's about rewarding Ramos, they said the two would split the catching duties this year. And with Gio pitching second, it just makes sense. If Suzuki started on Monday, he'd either catch two days in a row, or Ramos would catch Gio.

SonnyG10 said...

I hope Mike and Davey have a pretty big bottle they're using to catch lightning.

JaneB said...

I'm with you Sofa. And I like the scale.

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