Wilson Ramos readied his catcher’s gear on Tuesday morning at his locker in the Nationals‘ clubhouse. He unwrapped a new face mask and chest guard, and adjusted his knee protectors. He was, for the first time in nine months since suffering a major injury to his right knee, going to crouch behind a plate in a baseball game.

Ramos’ life since injuring his ACL and meniscus last May has been regimented. Timetables for a return. Hurdles. Benchmarks. On Saturday, he was finally given full medical clearance to appear in a game. Sunday he took his first at-bats. And on Tuesday, in a 7-1 Nationals win over the Houston Astros, he was back in his most comfortable position on the field: behind home plate, putting down signs for pitches.

“He looked great,” Manager Davey Johnson said.

Ramos, 25, caught three innings and struck out in his lone appearance. He looked comfortable at the plate. He didn’t appear to favor his right knee at all. When starter Dan Haren uncorked an off-speed pitch that broke out of the strike zone in the third inning, Ramos dove to his right, landing on his surgically repaired knee, and blocked the ball. He looked agile and natural enough behind home plate that new teammate Haren, who wasn’t exactly sure how Ramos got hurt last season, was fooled.