Ramos set to return, Desmond defends his teammates

CHICAGO - The reinforcements keep on coming.

You could certainly claim that the Nationals haven't yet had their full roster in place this season. Doug Fister began the 2014 campaign on the disabled list, Wilson Ramos landed there after playing just seven innings in the season opener, and Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper have also missed extended stretches.

But the Nats are now slowly getting back toward full health, with Ramos set to return from the DL today after missing 15 days with a strained right hamstring. The 26-year-old catcher is expected to be in the Nationals lineup in the opener of a four-game set against the Cubs tonight.

Meanwhile, Harper will continue his rehab assignment today, joining Double-A Harrisburg in Akron, Ohio, and should be back with the Nationals sometime next week.

Matt Williams will continue knocking on wood anytime someone mentions how the Nats are getting healthier, but in less than a week, he hopes to finally have his full expected roster in place.

Going back to yesterday for a minute, I wanted to pass along Ian Desmond's full comments on his confrontation with Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez that took place in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Gomez was hit by a Taylor Hill pitch on the elbow with the Brewers holding a 9-2 lead, and apparently thought that the right-hander, who was making his major league debut, had plunked him on purpose. Almost immediately thereafter, Gomez went into second base with a hard slide, trying to take out second baseman Kevin Frandsen on a double play.

Desmond took exception to that and shared his feelings with Gomez. Both benches emptied, and while there wasn't really any pushing or shoving and everyone quickly returned to their respective dugouts, After the game, Desmond clearly still wasn't happy with Gomez's actions.

"I just told him I didn't agree with the way he slid into second base with a seven-run lead," Desmond said. "I've defended that guy in a lot of clubhouse arguments. I respect the way he plays the game, but I've got no respect for that. If he thinks he got drilled on purpose by our pitcher making his major league debut, to take it out on a guy who has grinded his butt off to make a major league career in Kevin Frandsen, what if he potentially ends his career right there?

"In a World Series game, you slide like that. In a seven-run differential game, there's no time for that. I think if you're going to defend that, I've got no respect for you if you can defend that."

Desmond said that Gomez claimed that it was a clean slide. The Nats shortstop responded that he disagreed.

Desmond seemed to be fairly calmly talking with Gomez after the inning was over until Brewers third base coach Ed Sedar walked past.

"(Sedar) said, 'He just got drilled,' " Desmond recalled. "And I said, 'That's fine, by a pitcher making his major league debut, who's been flying open all game, was just a little hyped up.' What would be the purpose of intentionally hitting him right there? Because he just swung at that pitch the at-bat before and got a hit. You're talking a matter of inches the difference in that pitch and the pitch that he hit before. I don't see any justification for that."

Gomez has been in a few incidents in the past, where his intense, somewhat flashy style of play has rubbed the opponent the wrong way. The flashiness wasn't the issue here, and Desmond said that he typically doesn't have a problem with the way Gomez plays. He appreciates Gomez's flair.

But the specific circumstances in this case, with Gomez behind hit by a pitcher in his big league debut and then taking out Frandsen with a hard slide, led to Desmond feeling that he should defend his teammates.

This doesn't seem like the type of thing that would carry over and become an issue later on down the road, but you never know. These two teams do play again just weeks from now, when the Brewers visit D.C. from July 18-20.

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