Ramos back in lineup, batting fifth against Dodgers

March 31.

May 7.

Finally.

Nationals manager Matt Williams announced that Wilson Ramos returns to the lineup today against the Dodgers, batting fifth and catching for Stephen Strasburg.

Just like he did on opening day March 31.

Ramos suffered a left hamate fracture in his hand in that first game against the Mets, had surgery and now has rehabbed to the point that he's ready to return to the lineup.

Ramos said his hand feels strong and he has done enough running to be ready to return.

"Feels good right now," Ramos said. "I was working down in Florida and the minor league side, in Hagerstown and Harrisburg, I was feeling good. My leg feels good. My hand feels good. I am ready to go. I was waiting for this moment. I have to enjoy it."

Ramos hit a three-run shot for Hagerstown and said he has strength back in his surgically repaired hand, minus the hamate bone.

"My hand feels good," Ramos said. "A lot of people say coming back from this surgery, you lose power. I don't feel I lose that. Power is still there. My swing is still there. My approach is still there. Everything is the same. Just need to bring (it from) practice. See what happens."

ramos-throw-catchers-gear-sidebar.pngWilliams gained confidence in seeing how Ramos has operated the last few days and what he learned by speaking to him this week.

"Just the way he is moving around," Williams said. "He ran his sprints. Talking to him probably is the most important thing. We sat down in the office yesterday and talked about it."

Ramos has been able to take part in simulated games in Florida and a couple of rehab games within the organization to confirm his hand is fine. Williams said Ramos' rehab schedule can almost be mimicked this week with the big club because of the way the schedule works out the next few days.

"Given the off-day and given the way we can do things in the next series, it is essentially the same program," Williams said. "So whether it is here or there, it would be the same program. So he'd play today, he would have tomorrow off. That is kind of the way it has been going. ...

"We have the opportunity to give him off one of the games in Oakland or DH him. There is that opportunity, too. It works out over the next four or five days that we can do that anyway."

Ramos had the opportunity to call 149 pitches for Harrisburg Sunday and felt no pain playing defense in his second official rehab game.

"My hand feels good," Ramos said. "That part of my hand I put on outside of my glove. So I don't have any problem for catching the ball. It is different."

On Friday in Oakland, right-hander Doug Fister is expected to make his initial start of the season after recovering from a lat strain. With Ramos and Fister back, the Nationals are getting closer and closer to full strength. Williams said that is what the club needs right now.

"It is good," Williams said. "You leave spring training with a plan. And part of that plan includes those guys. It will be nice to have them both back. I don't think we can expect too much. Doug being out that long, I don't expect him to be able go out there and throw 120 pitches.

"With Wilson, there will be some timing issues. There always is. Regardless if you had four or five games of rehab or 10, there is always some timing issues. For them to set the world on fire first time out, I wouldn't expect that to happen. But we are glad to have them back."

Williams said this first week for Ramos will not be easy. He could still feel some tenderness in his hand and wrist first couple of games and that is normal.

"He should be fine," Williams said. "There is no issue with the hand. He has gotten past that. He may have lingering effect of this injury is some wrist soreness. So that may occur over the course of time as he goes through it. We will adjust to that.

"I think he is good. He is ready to go. We just want to make sure we are keeping an eye on him, especially the next week or so, but he is ready."

On getaway day at Nationals Park, the Nats look to take two out of three from the Dodgers. Former Nationals starter Dan Haren is on the bump for the Dodgers, facing his old buddies for the first time since leaving Washington after last season. Yasiel Puig makes his series debut for the Dodgers.

For the Nationals
Denard Span CF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kevin Frandsen LF
Stephen Strasburg RHP

For the Dodgers
Dee Gordon 2B
Carl Crawford LF
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Yasiel Puig RF
Andre Ethier CF
Juan Uribe 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Dan Haren RHP

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