Nationals manager Davey Johnson gave catcher Wilson Ramos the honor of starting Opening Day this week as a reward for his recovery from surgery on the ACL in his right knee last season. In picking Ramos, Johnson left Kurt Suzuki to watch from the dugout on Monday after being the team’s starting catcher through last year’s pennant race and playoff series.
Johnson said he will alternate the two backstops every other game, at least in the beginning of the season. It is a situation both catchers have accepted, despite believing they are each capable of being everyday guys.
“It is what it is, you can’t make it into a bigger deal,” Suzuki said. “Both of us deserve to play every day, Ramos is a great number one catcher. I think we team up well together, we can both complement each other really well. To keep us both healthy for the full season is what is most important. It’s important for us to help the team win ballgames.”
Johnson said who catches each game will not depend on the pitcher or matchups necessarily. He told Ramos and Suzuki to be ready to catch anyone on the staff as a rotation of five pitchers will keep them alternating battery mates.
“I told them they are just going to alternate early on,” he said. “That’s a tribute because I like them both, they’re both great catchers, they both handle the staff very well, both bring a lot to the table.”
“That will get more difficult as the season goes on too.”
Catching every other game will present challenges of staying in rhythm at the plate and in the field, but Suzuki says there are ways to compensate.
“You catch bullpens, you do whatever you can to stay in shape, hit extra, there’s things you can do. It’s obviously not the same as going out there in game situations but there’s definitely ways you can stay sharp,” he said.
Suzuki expressed no ill-will towards either Johnson or Ramos for not getting the nod on Monday. He enjoys Ramos as a teammate and was happy to see him complete his recovery.
“I think it’s great, after what he’s been through. I obviously didn’t experience it coming up with the team last year but reading about what he’s been through and all the stuff that he’s been through, you never wish that upon anybody. To see him come back, his mental state, he’s really happy, he’s focused, he’s ready to go. It’s nice to see him out there again.”
Davey Johnson on who will be the setup man
After using Tyler Clippard for the eighth inning in Monday’s season opener, Davey Johnson said the setup role is not etched in stone. He plans to use Drew Storen in Wednesday night’s game if the situation presents itself and will evaluate the situation on a game-by-game basis.
“I had a little conversation with the bullpen and I basically said I’ve got four guys who have closed here. Clip had a really great spring. Probably, depending on the workload for each guy, Storen’s probably my backup closer with Clip right there. But basically I like to divide my bullpen into A and B pens. Today I will leave setup to Storen. Even with the off day. Normally I like to let a guy work, have an off day, and then work. But all of them are used to going back to back. I have a lot of good choices.”
Zimmerman on Gio moving on from Biogenesis rumor
Ryan Zimmerman was asked about Gio Gonzalez beginning the season with the offseason rumor of him taking performance enhancing drugs seemingly in the past. Zimmerman stood up for his teammate and lamented the fact it may stick with him even after passing a drug test and proclaiming his innocence.
“That’s the day and age we live in now too, I think anyone can kind of say whatever they want and then once he’s innocent he’s kind of innocent. I think people are unfortunately going to think that he’s guilty just because someone was able to say that he did something in a paper. Nothing happens to that guy but Gio has to live with that the rest of his life.
He comes and gets his job done and gets his work in. He is very good at separating that stuff from going out and pitching or being around the guys in here. It’s something that none of us want to have to go through or should have to go through, but unfortunately he did and he’s a good enough guy and a good enough character guy to get through it and come out and hopefully pitch well this season.”