Since late January, Wilson Ramos has been in Viera, Fla. It’s a long way from chilly Washington, where he spent most of the offseason. He came here nearly three weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Tuesday for various reasons; chief among them is a burning desire to prove to the Nationals that he and his surgically-repaired right knee will be ready. He wants to show the team that by the end of spring training he will be physically able to regain his spot atop of the catching depth chart.
So he showed up to Viera before the rest his teammates, hoping to knock the rust of his swing, throwing and catching. Ramos, 25, has been here training and continuing his never-ending rehabilitation. On Monday, he played catch with newly-arrived teammates, took some swings, hung out in the dugout, shagged fly balls and emerged in the early afternoon sweaty from yet another workout.
“[I came early] to keep strengthening my knee and because I know this year is going be hard for me because of all the things I’ve got to do,” he said in Spanish. “And to show the team that I can keep playing. I need them to see that I’m ready to get back to my role.”
Ramos was recently cleared by his doctor, giving him permission to participate in all activities in spring training — but slowly and gradually. He said he can run and squat without pain. He has been doing agility drills without any issue. He has lost a bunch of weight around the core of his body. The sturdy-framed Ramos still weighs the same as before, about 250 pounds, but has replaced it with muscle, his shoulders noticeably more built than last season.
The only fear, he said, was a mental one. He is worried that when he blocks balls in the dirt he may hurt his knee again when it hits the ground. “I’m a little scared sometimes but that’s mental,” he said.