Ramos takes big step, gets back behind plate

VIERA, Fla. -- Catcher Wilson Ramos made the final step in his recovery from right knee surgery, catching three innings of action in the Nationals' 7-1 win against the Astros on Tuesday.

Ramos caught starter Dan Haren, diving to block one ball in the third inning, something the Nationals were keeping a close eye on.

"I didn't even really think about it, honestly," Haren said. "I don't even know what happened to him last year. … But he seemed like he's been catching for a while back there. I didn't see him stabbing at balls or anything. He's a nice big target."

Ramos -- who tore his ACL and meniscus on May 12 last year, and hadn't participated in game action since -- has been taking part in all drills with catchers since he arrived at camp. But his progress, from catching back-to-back bullpen sessions and blocking balls to sliding on the basepaths, has been steady.

"I'll go slow with him and work him up to the whole deal," manager Davey Johnson said. "We've got plenty of time in the spring. He showed a pretty good bat the other day, he won that ballgame leading off with a double the second time up."

Ramos made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday, pinch-hitting in the designated hitter spot. He grounded out and doubled to center field.

Johnson said Ramos will likely continue to balance designated hitter and catching duties while he recuperates.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.