Strasburg to start Nats' spring opener (plus Ramos note)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' Grapefruit League opener is now just five days away, and while pitchers haven't started throwing live batting practice yet, manager Davey Johnson already knows who his starter for the spring opener will be.

Stephen Strasburg will get the ball Saturday, as the Nationals head to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets in their first Grapefruit League game of the year.

The Nationals' spring home opener against the Marlins, which is Sunday, will be started by Jordan Zimmermann. Gio Gonzalez will then get the ball next Monday at Port St. Lucie versus the Mets.

Those guys will likely throw two, or no more than three, innings in their first start of spring.

Meanwhile, catcher Wilson Ramos continues to make strides in his recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, catching back-to-back bullpen sessions today.

Ramos blocked balls yesterday, something which he says he was a little scared to do going in, but he reported no soreness in the knee today. In addition to the two bullpen sessions, Ramos also took part in throwing drills and said that he isn't limited at all taking batting practice.

Johnson said today that Ramos will "most definitely" be on his opening day roster, assuming he doesn't suffer a setback in his recovery.

"I told him he was only going to catch one (bullpen today), but he wants to be doing what everybody else is doing," Johnson said. "He doesn't want to be behind. ... He's doing the full workload."

The Nats will continue to take things slow with Ramos, but it's clear everyone involved, from the catcher himself to those within the organization, are thrilled with the progress he's made.

"With the length of spring training this year, we've got the opportunity to take our time with him," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "But he's progressing nicely. ... We're going to take it step-by-step with him. So far, he's passed every threshold that we've given him."

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