Ramos to have surgery, miss at least a month (update)

NEW YORK - It appears the Nationals will be without Wilson Ramos for a matter of weeks, as the injury bug has indeed bit the 26-year-old catcher yet again.

According to a Washington Post report, Ramos will undergo hamate bone surgery on his left hand, a procedure that will knock Ramos from the Nats' lineup for 4-8 weeks.

Update: In his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan, the Nats' flagship radio station, manager Matt Williams confirmed that Ramos will need surgery, and said the team expects Ramos to miss 4-5 weeks.

Ramos left the Nats' opening day game against the Mets in the seventh inning after feeling discomfort in his hand during an at-bat. Williams said that Ramos also took a foul ball off the hand during the game.

He was replaced by backup catcher Jose Lobaton, who would now handle much of the load behind the plate in Ramos' absence. Lobaton was acquired by the Nats in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays this spring. He hit .249/.320/.394 with seven home runs in a career high 277 at-bats last season.

The Nats will need to call up a catcher to back up Lobaton, and will choose from either Sandy Leon, who was assigned to Double-A Harrisburg, or Jhonatan Solano, who was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Leon was one of the last players cut this spring, but Solano has more big league experience.

This represents yet another awful bit of luck for Ramos, who was kidnapped in his native Venezuela in 2011, suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in 2012, and twice landed on the disabled list with hamstring injuries in 2013.

He's gotten just 370 at-bats the last two seasons combined, and got just three on opening day before this latest setback.

The hamate bone is one of the many carpal bones in the wrist, and injuries to this bone are fairly common for baseball players because it's near the surface of the palm and can fracture easily due to contact. Normal recovery time after hamate bone surgery is around six weeks, but the effects of the surgery can linger quite a bit longer.

Even after returning from hamate bone surgery, a player can tend to feel less power when hitting or pitching for up to a year. That said, many players have their hamate bone removed, and some return to form soon after they're back on the field.

Ramos came into spring training talking about how healthy and strong he felt, and how excited he was to prove that he could play a full big league season. He hit .385 this spring and Williams was so impressed with Ramos' power potential that he wrote him into the opening day lineup in the cleanup spot.

Opening day was apparently not the first time Ramos experienced discomfort in his hand/wrist, however; bench coach Randy Knorr said in an appearance on 106.7 The Fan yesterday that Ramos told him that his wrist felt "funny" during a game the last week of spring training.

"For Wilson Ramos to come out of the game, it doesn't look good," Knorr said. "I always try to stay positive and say 'OK, go to the doctor, maybe it's not as bad as people think it is, maybe it's two or three days,' and I try to stay that way, but in my mind and seeing guys over my career, it really doesn't look good. It might be a hamate bone or something."

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