PHILADELPHIA - Wilson Ramos told reporters after last night's 9-6 win over the Phillies that he was taken out of the game in the seventh inning for a pinch-runner shortly after manager Davey Johnson saw him stretching out a cramp behind his right knee.
After leaving the game, Ramos went in to get treatment on the area around his surgically repaired knee, leading to a question about whether he'd need a day off today in the Nationals' series finale in Philadelphia.
"Nah," Ramos said with a smile. "I'm ready to go."
Given all Ramos has been through the last couple seasons, you can't really blame the guy for wanting to get as much playing time as possible.
Assuming he does indeed start today's game, it will mark the 13th straight game that Ramos has caught. In that span, he's been behind the plate for 104 of the Nats' 112 defensive innings, no shortage of work for a guy coming off major knee surgery last year and multiple hamstring injuries this season.
But Ramos isn't trying to waste any time sitting on the bench. He feels healthy and wants to get an opportunity to show he's a true everyday catcher, especially now that Kurt Suzuki is gone, having been traded to the A's less than two weeks ago.
"It feels great," Ramos said. "My knee is good, my hamstring is good. I'm happy because we've been winning. I'm ready to catch more. I'm healthy and I'm happy to be behind the plate."
When he's been in the lineup, Ramos has produced pretty impressive offensive numbers. He's hitting .274 this season and slugging .464, and his three-run homer last night gave Ramos 10 longballs in just 207 at-bats this year. Over a standard full season with 550 at-bats, that's a 27-homer pace. Not bad for a catcher. Not bad at all.
Johnson will continue to lean heavily on Ramos in this final month, pressing the 26-year-old to see if he can handle a heavy workload. And that's fine with Ramos, who feels he has something to prove.
"It's very important for me," Ramos said. "I lost too many games early in the season, last year. Right now I feel good. I want to show the team, the manager I can play every day because I feel more consistent when I play every day. I want to show him this season."
Ramos will be getting a lot more playing time than Corey Brown in the final 24 games of the regular season, but by no means is that unexpected. Brown was called up from Triple-A Syracuse yesterday as part of the second wave of Nationals September roster additions, and he immediately made an impact, smoking a ball into the second deck in right for a seventh-inning, pinch-hit homer.
Unlike last season, Brown didn't get called up to the big leagues at any point in the season prior to September, but part of that wasn't really under his control. A little over a week into the season at Syracuse, Brown strained an oblique muscle during batting practice, an injury that knocked him out for a month.
That overlapped with the time that Jayson Werth was on the disabled list, so Brown wasn't available to come up and provide depth at the big league level. In a sense, he missed his chance.
"When I got healthy, everyone up here was playing well and staying out of the training room and whatnot," Brown said. "So I try not to think about it when I'm down there. Obviously, you hear stuff. You know what's going on. But when I was down in Syracuse, I just tried to continue to play well and just wait for my opportunity to come up here."
Brown plugged away at Triple-A, hitting .254 with 19 homers, but his 132 strikeouts in 107 games irked him.
"I just tried to go out there and do the same thing as always," Brown said. "Every year, I'm trying to learn something from the coaches, from the pitchers that I'm facing. I always try to get better. Obviously, the strikeouts is my biggest thing. I always try to improve on that. I know there's a lot of room for improvement there. But, now that I'm here, I'm just going to continue to try to learn from the older guys, learn from the coaches and try to contribute to the team.
"It's definitely a blessing to be back up in the big leagues. It's always amazing. I'm just going to soak it all in, focus as much as I can and enjoy it while I'm here."