Nationals manager Matt Williams had an update on catcher Wilson Ramos, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since opening day with a left hamate bone fracture.
"Took early BP today, looks good," Williams said. "At this point, it is pain tolerance. Structurally, everything is really good. The bone is removed. The scar is healing. It is not just a skin scar, either - they go in there. There is constant work being done on that.
"You loosen it up and then it mats down again overnight because that is your body's way of healing. That is an everyday process. He swung the bat today in early batting practice, looking good. He has got to get strength back, but so far so good. Pretty fast (recovery), all things considered."
Not having Ramos' bat in the lineup has hurt the Nationals offense. More importantly, his experience working with the pitching staff may be even more critical, and that is tough to not have available.
"I think he knows our pitching staff better than anybody else," Williams said. "So that is a comfort level for the pitchers. It is a comfort level for the catchers, certainly. That being said, I think our catchers have done a fine job. But anytime you lose Wilson, somebody of that caliber, it is going to hurt you, one way or another. He knows these guys, he has caught these guys for along time."
Although Ramos is making steady progress, Williams cautioned that the Nats can't assume that he will be back any time soon.
"I think that is kind of an open-ended schedule," Williams said. "It depends on his pain tolerance. We are 30 days in. That is pretty fast. It is a major operation to go in there and take that bone out. (It is) still painful.
"He is not going to hurt it any more, structurally. It is just a question getting back into game speed and game situations because he just hasn't been able to do it yet. He will catch bullpens. He will go through all of the work that (the coaches) will put him through this weekend from a defensive perspective. We will see where we are at the end of the weekend. So far it has been pretty good."
Because the injury is on Ramos' catching hand and not his throwing hand, that creates a different set of challenges in his recovery.
"The catching part is the biggest thing, his strength," Williams said. "Swinging the bat is one thing, you have two hands on it. But being a catcher is completely different. He has got a little addition to his glove, a pad that kind of runs up the palm of his hand that will help with that."
Williams said Ramos will need to get his strength back to make the 100 or so throws he must make from behind the plate each game, and to be able to do it for three or four games in a row.