Ramos must re-earn starting job

Ramos must re-earn starting job
December 5, 2012, 12:30 pm
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though he's expected to arrive at spring training 100 percent healthy following two surgeries to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos will have to earn his starting job back from Kurt Suzuki.

"Suzuki will probably start the season at No. 1, making sure that Ramos is comfy," manager Davey Johnson said. "I love Ramos. I love both of them."

Suzuki, acquired in a trade with the Athletics on Aug. 3, assumed the starting job the rest of the season and through the National League Division Series. The 29-year-old impressed with his ability to produce in the clutch -- he drove in 20 runs over his last 28 games -- and to work with the Nationals' pitching staff, setting the stage for his return next season.

Already under contract for $6.45 million, Suzuki would make for an incredibly pricey backup catcher.

Ramos, though, had a stranglehold on the starting job before he got hurt trying to chase down an errant pitch May 12 in Cincinnati. The 25-year-old was hitting .265 at the time of the injury and finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting the previous season after clubbing 15 homers.

Ramos' recovery has gone smoothly, and team officials have every reason to believe he'll report to spring training 100 percent healthy. But Johnson plans to be cautious with his young catcher.

"It depends on his mobility and what the doctors say," the manager said. "He had two drastic knee surgeries. He really looked good to me with us in the playoffs, and he's driven. He's got a lot of potential offensively and defensively. We have two great No. 1 catchers."

If Ramos re-establishes himself as healthy and productive, Johnson could face a dilemma. Would he pick either Ramos or Suzuki as his regular starter, or would he have them share the job?

"Whatever I do, I'll probably be successful at it," the manager said. "We'll just have to see how it goes. If a guy is going real good, stay a little longer. Cools off, I'll go with the other guy. But I'm very comfortable with both of them."