Wilson Ramos has been sharing time behind the plate with Jesus Flores and you might think there's competition between the two young catchers. Well, Ramos told me he only competes against himself to do his best and Flores has the same mindset.
The two have actually helped each other out a lot this season. They work hard together every day and they've become very close friends. Flores said he and Ramos are always talking, before, during and after every game. They discuss opposing pitchers and hitters and their own pitchers' likes, dislikes and tendencies. They also discuss situations during the game as they try to improve and gain more baseball knowledge and strategy. It's something Ramos said he learned from Ivan Rodriguez.
The future Hall of Famer is constantly talking, even though he has been on the disabled list. He is in the dugout, sharing tips with his two young catchers and he even helps out the veterans with batting tips before they head out to home plate. No doubt that is why the Nationals are so strong with their catching corps.
* Despite the Nats' recent losing ways, baseball people around the National League are impressed with direction the ballclub is going. This weekend in Cincinnati, Reds manager Dusty Baker told me the organization has some great players and the Nationals remind him of the Tampa Bay Rays because they have been able to draft and sign their players. He added the team is not far off.
Baker also told me he relied heavily on former Reds Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes when they were with the Reds. He enjoyed managing both players and admired their tenacity in the game. Gomes always describes himself as someone who has had to earn everything he's gained in baseball and he says he, like Nix, is not a "silver spoon guy." Baker told me he liked the way both players prepared and were ready when called upon.
Being a bench player can be challenging in that regard. Gomes said it was unique for him to play for Baker since he grew up watching him manage the Giants. Gomes grew up in Northern California and he enjoyed watching Baker groom players like Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. When Gomes got the opportunity to play for Baker he was excited and he learned so much from him.
Baker always told Gomes to stay in the game and be ready to play. He also taught Gomes how to be the RBI guy and drive in runs - "drive the bus and get everyone home," as Gomes put it. That's something that will stick with him the remainder of his career.
* Mark you calendar for Sept. 10 - that's when you can help the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, the fourth-oldest nonprofit organization in the Washington, D.C. ,area. Columbia Lighthouse provides programs and services for the blind and visually impaired. Their efforts range from helping babies to seniors and they have a new program to help our veterans.
The first LIght the Way 5K walk/run takes place Sept. 10 at Nationals Park and everyone who signs up will receive a ticket to the game that evening. For more information, click here.