VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos did something on Saturday that he wasn't able to do since last May. He slid seven times on the team's half field without any problems. Sliding was the last step for Ramos before he was able to play in a game.
"I felt pretty good," Ramos said. "I didn't have any pain. I wasn't sore. I'm no longer scared. I was happy. I was excited about that [Saturday]. But today is another day. I would have to do the same thing like yesterday. We'll see how it feels today."
Since Ramos passed the test when it comes to sliding, manager Davey Johnson put Ramos in Sunday's game against the Cardinals as a pinch-hitter for Ryan Zimmerman in the seventh inning. Ramos admitted he was nervous when he stepped into the batter's box. He grounded out to third base, but didn't have any problems running the bases.
"I just tried to put the ball in play and see how my knee felt," Ramos said. "I was running to first base, I felt good."
Said Johnson, "When he chopped that ball to third, he was running real hard to first, I said, 'Wil, don't run so hard.'"
In the ninth inning, Ramos doubled over James Ramsey's head in center field and left the game as Sandy Leon replaced him as a pinch-runner. Leon scored what proved the winning run in a 7-6, walk-off victory.
"I was waiting for something over the plate. … I felt much better at the plate. It was exciting," Ramos said.
Johnson also announced that Ramos would start against the Astros on Tuesday and play three innings behind the plate.
"I'm very excited to be able to play now," Ramos said. "I was waiting for that step. I'm crazy to play again. It's has been a long time. I missed a lot of games. I miss putting on my gear. Now, I'm able to play. I'm waiting for the moment."
Ramos missed most of last season because of a devastating right knee injury last May against the Reds. Johnson was impressed that Ramos came into camp in great shape after two major surgeries in June and July.
"He is in great shape. He has been taking extra work," Johnson said. "He has been throwing a lot. He has been blocking a lot. He has done everything every other guy in camp has done and I've seen him do it."
Ramos is expected to start the season as the backup catcher behind Kurt Suzuki.