PHILADELPHIA — Wilson Ramos returns to Syracuse today, his first, extremely brief, stint with the Nationals complete after three days and one game played. Wil Nieves who had been placed on the temporary leave list while his wife Yormarie gave birth to the couple's first daughter Wednesday afternoon, rejoins the Nats tonight and will be in uniform for Game 2 against the Phillies.
It's hard to draw real conclusions about Ramos based on one game, but the 23-year-old drew positive reviews from Nationals pitchers on his game-calling abilities. He also flashed some impressive defensive skill in scooping up a sacrifice bunt attempt in Atlanta on Thursday and gunning down a runner at third base. And he displayed an ability to work the count and foul off some tough two-strike pitches.
If nothing else, Ramos leaves the Nationals wanting to see more of him, though they're going to have to wait another 11 days before they get the chance again. Ramos will be among the September call-ups. The question then becomes how much playing time he'll get down the stretch.
The way Jim Riggleman answered that question yesterday lends me to believe the rookie catcher may not get as much action as fans would like.
"It's always a tough little period there, when you have young players coming up and you have veteran players who have been out there going hard for you all year," Riggleman said. "As curious as you are about Ramos, or any other young player, the respect for the veteran players has to be considered. You can't just bury them and forget what they've done for you all year. They've given the effort all year. They've played hard. [If you] take September away from them, you're going to lose those guys.
"You know, those guys are going to be part of your future, also. They're looking at you like: 'Hey, I gave you good effort all year, and now you're going to take those at-bats away from me?' It's a two-way street. You've got to respect the veteran players. At the same time, try to mix the other guys in there and try to get a read on them, too."
In other words: Ivan Rodriguez remains this organization's No. 1 catcher. He signed a two-year deal. He's pursuing 3,000 hits. He's going to be in the Hall of Fame someday. He's not suddenly going to cede all of his playing time to a rookie.
It's a delicate balancing act, but if the Nationals' plan for 2011 really is to have Pudge and Ramos share the job, setting the stage for Ramos to take over as the everyday catcher in 2012, the kid needs to play more than once every four or five days this September.