More on the catching competition

VIERA, Fla. - Earlier today, I wrote about Wilson Ramos working his way back into the conversation about who should be the Nationals’ starting catcher on opening day.

Until recently, it hadn’t actually been much of a conversation. The job was Kurt Suzuki’s, both because of the way Suzuki performed down the stretch last season and also because Ramos wasn’t expected to be ready to handle a starting workload on April 1, less than 11 months after he tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee.

Ramos has returned quicker than the Nationals had expected, however. He’s passed every test put in front of him so far, and today will catch back-to-back games for the first time this spring. Manager Davey Johnson keeps talking about how Ramos has done everything the other catchers in camp have done. He clearly isn’t babying Ramos, feeling that the 25-year-old is healthy enough to just be one of the guys.

So where does this leave things when it comes to the starting catching job?

Well, Johnson said this morning that he’s going to hold off on making a call on who will start behind the plate on opening day until after the Nationals have held their exhibition game against the Yankees at Nats Park on March 29.

This, as Marlo from “The Wire” once said, “sounds like one of them good problems.

“I’m going to be very smart whichever way I go,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I’m not concerned about that at all. That’s the least of my worries. ...

“I admire both their skills. I think Suzuki brings a lot to the table and Wilson Ramos brings a lot to the table. He missed over half the year. I always consider that the most demanding position that you’ve got. It takes the biggest toll. They’ve both handled pitching staffs very well. I’m very comfortable with either one of them handling our pitching staff.”

Johnson said he might take things easy on Ramos when it comes to having him make road trips, but staying in Viera when the team is away has its benefits. Whichever catcher doesn’t make the trip that day - Ramos or Suzuki - will be allowed to head over to the minor league fields and take part in contests over there, which will enable them to get as many at-bats as they’d like.

Johnson also said that it will probably be another week or so before either Suzuki or Ramos catch a full nine innings. Suzuki has maxed out at six innings to this point, while Ramos has caught a maximum of five innings so far.

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