Ramos gets in seven innings in second rehab start
Catcher goes 1-for-4 with an RBI as he comes back from hamstring injury
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos went 1-for-4 with an RBI in his second rehab start on Sunday for Double-A Harrisburg. In his first game since returning from a strained right hamstring on Saturday, Ramos went 1-for-3 with a three-run home run.
Ramos played five innings at catcher on Saturday, and he progressed to seven innings on Sunday. In both games, he batted third.
In his first at-bat on Sunday, Ramos grounded out to third base on a 1-2 pitch, but earned an RBI on the play when designated hitter Michael Taylor -- the Nationals' No. 4 overall prospect who is hitting .333 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs this season -- scored from third. Ramos followed that up with a rocket lineout to shortstop in the third inning on a 1-0 pitch.
In the fourth inning, Ramos stepped to the plate with runners on the corners, but skied a pitch up in the strike zone to center field. But in his fourth at-bat of the game in the seventh inning, Ramos finally found a hole with a sharp ground ball that tipped off the glove of Akron first baseman Ronny Rodriguez for a single.
After Harrisburg second baseman Cutter Dykstra advanced Ramos to second with a base hit, Quincy Latimore pinch-ran for the catcher before Brian Jeroloman replaced him behind the plate for the final two innings.
"They were good at-bats," Ramos said. "I was working on getting a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on the ball. That's what I worked on in those two games."
In both rehab games, Ramos admitted he was running lightly on purpose to avoid a relapse.
On Saturday, he didn't have to worry about his speed because he trotted around the bases on his only hit after blasting a shot over the right-field fence. On Sunday, though, Ramos truly ran the bases for the first time since straining his hamstring on June 10, and he achieved his goal by not tweaking the injury.
"[I was] trying to see how I feel with my hamstring, put the ball in play a couple times, run to first," said Ramos, who assured he had no pain or discomfort whatsoever, including behind the plate while blocking balls and making throws to second. "I'm not running like 100 percent. I'm a little bit scared. But that happens when we get an injury. When we come back, we feel scared a little bit. It happens."
Luckily for Ramos, he didn't have to leg out any doubles during his first two rehab starts.
"That's what I need," Ramos said. "Singles and homers, that's it."
Right-hander A.J. Cole, the Nationals' No. 2 overall prospect, started Sunday's contest for Harrisburg, allowing three earned runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old started strong without surrendering a hit in his first three innings but wore down in the fourth inning when second baseman Joe Wendle hit a two-run homer into the home bullpen in right field.
Nonetheless, Ramos was impressed with Cole's stuff, including a solid sinker and a sharp slider, but he said the youngster could use at least another year of development.
"He looked good to me," Ramos said. "He just needs to get more experience at every level."
Left-hander Bryan Harper, Bryce's brother, replaced Cole in the seventh inning and surrendered two runs in two-thirds of an inning for his first win of the season. Ramos said it was funny catching a brother of a teammate, especially considering his brother, David, is in the Nationals system as a pitcher for Class A Hagerstown.
On Monday, Ramos is expected to meet up with Bryce Harper in Potomac for what he hopes will be the final two games of his his rehab stint. Harper may play up to seven games for Potomac before returning during the Nationals homestand, which starts June 30 against the Rockies. Ramos meanwhile plans on making a return to the Majors on Thursday in Chicago against the Cubs.
"I want to be in the lineup with those guys," Ramos said. "The Nationals need Bryce and me in the lineup, and hopefully we'll play in Potomac, and then go to big leagues and help those guys win games."
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. He also can be found on Twitter