Nats catchers will likely split job 50-50

Nats catchers will likely split job 50-50
March 23, 2013, 1:45 pm
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though he won't reveal yet who will start behind the plate on Opening Day, Nationals manager Davey Johnson did strongly suggest today he plans to give Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos equal playing time to begin the regular season.

The Nationals opened camp six weeks ago believing Ramos would need time to build himself back up after tearing the ACL in his right knee last May. Though he was expected all along to be ready for Opening Day, he figured to defer to Suzuki for playing time early on, then gradually increase his workload until he re-assumed the No. 1 catching job.

But Ramos has impressed since he arrived for spring training and has progressed perhaps faster than most assumed.

"He was doing the same stuff everyone else was doing from day one, actually more so," Johnson said. "He never missed a day on anything. We held him out of games [early] because the doctor was scheduled to see him again ... but he passed all those things with flying colors, as well as sliding. He's been basically on pretty much the same path that Suzuki's been on. I look at both pretty much being on equal footing going into the year right now."

Ramos has already caught back-to-back games and today he's scheduled to catch the full nine innings for the second time in three days. The 25-year-old has been swinging a strong bat as well, entering today's game against the Mets with a .364 average in Grapefruit League play.

Suzuki, acquired last August from the Athletics after a spate of injuries to Nationals catchers beyond Ramos, has played well himself this spring, hitting .276 with a homer and three doubles. The 29-year-old remains under contract through this season for $6.45 million, with an $8.5 million team option for 2014.

Ramos and Suzuki have been starting every other day through the last week of camp. As far as Johnson is concerned, their playing schedule will remain the same come April 1.

"My plan basically is to continue what we've been doing in spring," he said. "We'll see how it pans out. So far, last I checked, they were both hitting pretty good, catching every other day. If it ain't broke, why do I gotta fix it? I like where they are. Anyone gets a little problem, I've got a backup plan."

Just don't expect Johnson to reveal which guy will be in the lineup on Opening Day against the Marlins.

"They'll probably split the [final exhibition] game against the Yankees," he said. "And no, I'm not answering your next question."