Nats select contract of Ramírez, option Lipscomb back to Rochester

SAN DIEGO – Harold Ramírez walked into the Nationals clubhouse at Petco Park with blue hair and a wide smile. He looked like the only kid ever to be excited on his first day at his new school. It’s because he was back in a major league clubhouse for the first time in three weeks.

The Nationals selected Ramírez’s contract from Triple-A Rochester before opening a three-game series against the Padres. The 29-year-old, who was designated for assignment by the Rays on June 7 and released on June 13, signed a minor league deal with the Nats on June 15 and needed just seven minor league games before joining a big league roster again.

“I really feel very excited to be here in the big leagues to be here with the Nationals,” he said in the visiting dugout after taking his first batting practice with his new team. “I just really want to give my 100 percent and take advantage of this opportunity.”

While not in the starting lineup tonight, he is available off the bench as a right-handed pinch-hitter for manager Davey Martinez, who says Ramírez will get opportunities against lefties.

“We picked up Harold. So he was down with us in Rochester, trying to get him going. He started swinging back really well,” Martinez said. “We needed a right-handed hitter. He's a veteran guy that hits lefties really well. So he's gonna get an opportunity to definitely play against lefties. And also if he starts swinging the bat, I can use him in our lineup. So we're gonna go over here. We wanted to bring him in today. He'll pinch-hit today for us. But get him acclimated and get him in as soon as possible.”

Ramírez leads the majors with a .339 batting average against left-handed pitchers since 2020. In 2023, he led the American League and was second in the big leagues with a .387 batting average against left-handed pitching (minimum 100 at-bats). He also went 11-for-21 (.524) and led the majors with 10 RBIs as a pinch-hitter in 2023.

He set career highs in hits (125), home runs (12), RBIs (68), walks (22), runs (58), steals (five), batting average (.313), on-base percentage (353), slugging percentage (.460) and OPS (.813) for the Rays in 2023.

But he was struggling with a .268/.284/.305 slash line and .589 OPS, one home run and 13 RBIs in 48 games with Tampa Bay this year. So the Nationals are anticipating him going back to who he was as a hitter last year.

“I don't expect more. I expect him to do what he did last year for Tampa,” Martinez said. “He had a really good year last year. He's a really good hitter. I think he was hitting .270 when they let him go. So like I said, we could use that bat and we definitely use it against left-handed pitching.”

The Nationals rank 23rd in the major leagues with a .228 average and 27th with a .630 OPS against left-handed pitching.

While he gets acclimated to his new club, the Nats will look to use Ramírez as the designated hitter and work him some in the outfield and at first base.

“He DH'ed and he played some first with Tampa,” Martinez said. “We're gonna get him to work out in left field as well, or anywhere in the outfield, and then we'll go from there. But we definitely love his bat.”

Ramírez went 9-for-24 (.375) with a double, four RBIs, six walks and a run scored in his seven games with Rochester. He had multi-hit performances in four of the seven games.

“It depends, because I just got here,” he said. “So the manager is gonna make the lineup. If he needs me in the outfield, I'll be there. If he wants me to be the DH or first base, I'm just here for him.”

Ramírez’s addition to the clubhouse meant someone had to be on their way out. That ended up being Trey Lipscomb, who already had his bags packed and replaced his Nationals T-shirt with a University of Tennessee shirt while being optioned back down to Rochester. His Volunteers are playing the Texas A&M Aggies in Game 3 of the College World Series Championship tonight.

Lipscomb was recalled for the third time this season on June 12, when Joey Gallo landed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. But he went 1-for-11 in five games (four starts) before getting sent back down to the minors. The 24-year-old has hit .237 with a double, one home run, nine RBIs, 11 walks, 10 stolen bases and 16 runs scored in 38 major league games this season.

“He's gonna go down and continue to work on his swing a little bit. But he's done fine,” Martinez said. “And I keep reiterating to him that he's still really young. He just has to go play. I just didn't want him to sit here. I want him to play every day, get at-bats every day down there.”

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Nationals select Ramírez, Lipscomb to Rochester

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