Mar 31, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
NEW YORK — Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos left Monday’s season opener against the New York Mets in the middle of the seventh inning after feeling pain his left hand.
Manager Matt Williams said the initial X-rays are negative, but he will now see a hand specialist in Washington, D.C. for a second opinion. The Nationals are weighing their options at catcher just in case he misses time.
Ramos took a foul tip off the hand in the bottom of the sixth inning, and felt discomfort during his at-bat in the top of the seventh. The Nationals then replaced him with Jose Lobaton when the Nats came back out on defense in the bottom of the seventh.
“Preliminary X-rays were negative, but he is going to see our hand specialist tomorrow,” Williams said. “There was a foul tip, and then he took a swing he didn’t feel good on so we took him out of the game.”
Williams was cautious to give any timetables or expectations for Ramos who could miss time. He is optimistic about the initial results, however.
“The preliminary X-ray here shows negative, so we’re just going to make sure we are accurate on it.”
Ramos has a troubled injury history including a torn ACL in 2012 and pulled hamstrings. In four major league seasons he has played more than 78 games just once.
Ramos played well in spring and earned the role of cleanup hitter in the Nationals’ Opening Day lineup. Seeing him leave the game with pain in his hand was tough to watch for Williams.
“He works really hard. Anybody on our team, you don’t want to see that at all on Opening Day. Anytime, but especially on Opening Day. We’ll see where we’re at and send him to our guy and have him take a look at it.”
Williams did add that the hand does not look swollen. Whatever is ailing him is internal.
“You have a lot of little bones in there, so we have to make sure,” Williams said.
If Ramos does miss time, Lobaton will likely step in to start. The 29-year-old started 76 games at backstop for the Tampa Bay Rays last season and was brought in for exactly this reason. The Nationals traded for him on the first day of spring training for an insurance policy given Ramos’ health history.
Lobaton says he is ready to step in if needed.
“I’m ready every day, it doesn’t matter what happen,” Lobaton said. “If that happens, I’ll be there.”
Lobaton spoke to Ramos after the game and is unsure how bad it is. He could tell no change in Ramos’ demeanor.
“He was normal,” Lobaton said. “He’s my friend, but I don’t know nothing about him right now. I talked to him and he said he is just waiting to see what happens. I have no idea what is going on.”
The Nationals are off Tuesday and pick back up with the Mets on Wednesday. It’s possible the Nats will not have an update until before Wednesday’s game.
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