VIERA, Fla. - Eight home runs were hit at Space Coast Stadium today.
Five of those eight came off the collective bats of Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos.
Zimmerman crushed three home runs in a three-at-bat span this afternoon, giving him four longballs on the spring and boosting his Grapefruit League average to .308.
Each year, Zimmerman says he needs 50 at-bats in spring to feel like he's ready for the season. Strangely enough, his first homer of the day came with Zimmerman having 49 spring at-bats under his belt.
"Zim gets his 50 at-bats, he's ready," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said with a giant smile.
Said Zimmerman: "It's kind of as many at-bats as I've had over the last five or six years, and that's kind of the number where I usually need to be to be ready to go. ... I hit the ball good (today). Starting to feel better and we're about a week away, so it's nice to start getting going."
While Zimmerman's power production is certainly nice to see, I don't think anyone questioned whether the 25-homer guy from a year ago would be able to turn on the ball and give it a ride once he proved his right shoulder was healthy a handful of weeks ago. Ramos, on the other hand, tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee last May and had yet to really show off his power this spring.
Coming into today, Ramos had just one extra-base hit in 30 spring at-bats. Today, he homered to right in the third inning and then destroyed a ball well over the left field fence in the fourth. That three-run shot was part of an eight-run Nationals frame.
Ramos says he's completely put his surgically repaired knee out of his mind when he's on the field and in the cages, which has allowed him to focus even more intently on the finer parts of his game.
"After working hard with my knee, (I) concentrate a little more with my offense, my swing, working out with my swing," Ramos said. "I forget about my knee now. Now I'm working with my offense and my defense, too. Long time, I work with my knee only and I forget a little bit my offense, my swing, but now, I have time for work altogether. It feels great at the plate now."
Three days ago, Ramos started putting in work with hitting coach Rick Eckstein, taking extra time and focusing on fine-tuning his swing. Since then, Ramos is 4-for-8 with the two homers and five RBIs.
Asked after the game whether he's ready to announce who will be his opening day starter behind the plate, Johnson simply replied: "No."
While Johnson has said Ramos and Kurt Suzuki will evenly split time behind the plate to begin the season, being the opening day starter is something that clearly would hold plenty of significance to Ramos, especially given how far he's come in the last 10 months.
"Last year, I catch opening day. That's one of the best moment of my career," Ramos said. "This year, I'm waiting for that moment again. I will be happy in that moment, because that's the moment everybody waiting for."