NEW YORK - The Nationals, at the moment, are still dutifully alternating time at catcher between Ivan Rodriguez and Wilson Ramos. Rodriguez is behind the plate today because Ramos caught last night, and that means the rookie will be back in the Nationals’ lineup tomorrow night.
They’d committed to that approach through the first three series of the year. But we’re now in series No. 3, and that means things could change in the near future.
Rodriguez, 39 and now three years removed from his last season with an on-base percentage over .300, has started the season feebly at the plate. He’s 0-for-10, and has hit one ball out of the infield. He is still in good shape, though, and his legendary throwing arm has already caught one of the two runners who tried to steal on him this year.
“He’s blocking balls. He’s just a great athlete behind the plate,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “Offensively, Pudge is trying to do some things. He’s trying to stay inside the ball, hit the ball to right field. It’s not an easy adjustment for Pudge to get his stroke going, to have two days off and play. That’s a tough adjustment. What we want from Pudge is, for him to just continue to catch and block balls and throw well and work with that pitching. We’ll take the hits as they come.”
Ramos is hitting .357, and though all of his hits are singles, he showed glimpses of power at the plate, and hit fifth for the Nationals in their 11-inning win on Thursday. The plan all along has been for his playing time to increase throughout the season; it appears that will happen sooner than later.
“As we move forward, (Ramos) is going to get more and more playing time,” Riggleman said. “I don’t think he’s at a point where being a No. 2 catcher isn’t really going to benefit us or him. He’s going to move in there and just play more and more as we go.”