Catcher Wilson Ramos reappeared in the Nationals clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, fresh off his minor league rehabilitation assignment and bent on showing manager Matt Williams that he was ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list after surgery to remove a broken hamate bone from his left hand.
Ramos thinks he'll be ready to go tomorrow, when the Nats close out their three-home game homestand against the Dodgers.
"I think so," he said. "I think that's the plan for now. I don't need (more rehab). I'm ready to go."
Williams, on the other hand, isn't so sure that timetable is workable.
"I know that he feels good and that he's played well, but we haven't made a decision on that." Williams said. "We'll see how it goes. I know that he feels good, but (he'll) go through the full workout today and we'll evaluate where he's at. I want to put my eyes on him. I know our whole staff does."
Officially, Ramos was 2-for-7 with a homer and three RBIs on his rehab stint, which included one game with Single-A Hagerstown on Sunday and one game with Double-A Harrisburg yesterday. But factor in the two homers he hit during games at extended spring training and Ramos appears to have made a speedy recovery from the injury e sustained on opening day.
Ramos served as designated hitter in Hagerstown and caught nine innings at Harrisburg, and said he was ready to return.
"It feels good right now," he said." I feel more strong. My legs feel good. It feels good yesterday, catching nine innings. That was good. I block a couple of balls. ... It's a good step."
The only problem he's experiencing is some residual soreness where the hamate bone was removed.
"It's just a little sore," Ramos said. "The doctor said the sore will be for a little while. It's normal. They told me, if you can play with that little sore, just do it. And that's what I'm doing now. It feels a little sore, but ... I know I can play with that."
For added protection, he's added a pad at the base of his catcher's mitt, a half-circle that will give the spot where his wrist connects with his hand some added protection. He'll also use a shaved down bat without much of a knob for a while to avoid any possibility of a bat knob rubbing the sore spot.
While Ramos said he feels like his timing is good and that he has no problem swinging the bat, Williams seems more concerned with his legs. Ramos has a history of hamstring injuries and the Nationals will likely be cautious in bringing him off the DL, not making the move until they are sure he can run first to third without any issues and demonstrate he can handle the repetitive up-and-down squatting-to-standing motion that catching requires.
"I think he feels well and his hand has responded well, and he's certainly played well," Williams said. "Last night was a good example of being durable and being able to finish the game and all that. I want to see how he looks today. ... I want to make sure his legs are feeling good. So we'll see. I know he's excited, but that's a really fast turnaround, a really fast recovery from an injury."
Ramos, who planned to take batting practice, run the bases and run sprints Tuesday afternoon, understands the concerns.
"The people with the team, they want to see me run the bases," he said. "When I was in Florida, I run the bases pretty good. I run first to third a couple times after the game. It feels good, my legs feel good. Since I get hurt all the time, I been working with my legs, my agility stuff. I never stop working with my legs. I get the hammy injury last year and I don't want to stop working on my legs. But right now it feels good."
It's possible the Nats could wait until Friday, when they begin an interleague series in Oakland against the A's, to activate Ramos. Williams even hinted that he could use Ramos as a DH in the American League park to ease him back into games.
If that happens, it's likely the Nats will carry three catchers - Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon - at least through the weekend. Williams doesn't want to be stuck with only one backstop when the team is a cross-country flight away from most of its minor league affiliates. With Scott Hairston back from his oblique injury, Tyler Moore would be the most likely position player to be optioned when Ramos returns.