Severino shows maturity as backup backstop

Severino shows maturity as backup backstop

WASHINGTON -- Before Monday, Pedro Severino was the Nationals' third catcher, a break-in-case-of-emergency option with 30 plate appearances in his Major League career.

But the moment starting catcher Wilson Ramos landed awkwardly on his right knee, tearing his ACL, Severino's role on the team grew drastically. Just like that, the 23-year-old became Washington's backup and a potential platoon starter, ticketed for the playoff roster.

Severino's performance in Thursday's 5-3 Nats win over the D-backs -- in which he walked, hit a home run and earned praise for his game-calling -- showed he may be ready for the increased responsibility.

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"He's worked on some things," manager Dusty Baker said of Severino. [Hitting coach] Rick Schu has worked on some things [with him]. [Third-base coach] Bob Henley takes him out every other day, works on his throwing, works on his blocking when he wasn't playing. So it doesn't appear to be too foreign to him."

After receiving four plate appearances last season, Severino is enjoying his first extended stay in the big leagues. He made a brief cameo in April when Ramos went on the bereavement list, came up again for a few weeks in August when Jose Lobaton got hurt and has been on the active roster for most of September.

But despite hitting .333 with a 1.092 OPS on the season, Severino had started only one game this month before Thursday. Against the D-backs, he seized his opportunity, guiding Joe Ross through four strong innings and whacking a fastball from Robbie Ray into the left-field stands for a home run in the third inning.

As a result of Ramos' injury, Severino will certainly be on the Nationals' postseason roster, and given that Lobaton has battled nagging injuries, he could get significant at-bats. Still, the young catcher said his mindset is no different from what it was a week ago.

"I'm a rookie, but always we have to be ready for everything happening, like that situation now," Severino said. "So I'm ready to play, and every time when they give me the opportunity, I just try to show them and execute."

Though Lobaton will likely be the Nationals' primary catcher the rest of the way, Baker left open the possibility that Severino could start against lefties. Based on his performance Thursday, he appears able to handle it.

"I said to him, 'Hey, man, I want you to do the same thing as Kershaw if you're starting in L.A.,'" Baker said. "And he said 'OK' and left it at that."

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.