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Wilson Ramos prepares to tag Giancarlo Stanton at the plate in the seventh inning.
"When I was in the bullpen, I was almost crying," Wilson Ramos said later. "I feel like today was my first game in the big leagues. I was too excited."
While Strasburg and Bryce Harper drew the lion's share of the attention during and after the Nationals' 2-0 Opening Day victory over the Marlins -- and rightfully so -- Ramos quietly went about his business. His presence behind the plate, though, was just as significant in the bigger picture.
Less than 11 months after tearing the ACL in his right knee while trying to corral an errant pitch in Cincinnati, Ramos was back in the Nationals' starting lineup, given the honor by manager Davey Johnson after a long and difficult recovery from that major injury.
Ramos' stat line -- 1-for-2 with a single and a walk -- was pedestrian, but those numbers almost didn't matter on this day. The mere fact he started for the Nationals on Opening Day was far more important, especially to members of the pitching staff who couldn't wait to pair up with him again.
"It was almost like he never left," reliever Tyler Clippard said. "I felt very comfortable with him out there. We were on the same page all night. I'm just happy for him to get back into the swing of things. I know he's worked his tail off to get back to this point."
The Nationals never doubted Ramos would be ready to begin the season on the active roster, but they had little reason to believe when spring training began he'd earn he starting nod on Opening Day. Having crossed every hurdle in his recoery, though, Ramos made the decision easy for manager Davey Johnson.
Ramos rewarded that decision with solid play during the Opening Day win. In addition to his two trips on base, he also did a nice job executing a rundown play in the seventh inning that helped Strasburg escape a jam and called a good game for the Nationals pitching staff, which only surrendered three hits all afternoon.
"He's a big target and receives really well," Strasburg said. "Once we get on the same page, it's just like auto-pilot. You don't need to go out there and over-analyze or over-think and just throw the pitch."
Johnson plans to alternate his catchers to begin the season, so expect Ramos to take a seat on the bench Wednesday while Kurt Suzuki straps on the gear to catch Gio Gonzalez.
For now, Ramos is just soaking in his first appearance in a major-league game since May 2012, thrilled everything felt normal when he took his position behind the plate.
"I'm happy for this day," he said. "Because I feel like I called a pretty good game for Stephen and the other guys. And we won."