NEW YORK — It sounds, at first blush, like a crazy idea: Let a catcher who has battled major leg injuries the last two seasons start more consecutive games than any other major-league catcher has in 2013.
Wilson Ramos, though, really wants to do it. And Davey Johnson really wants to give Ramos the opportunity to do it.
So today Ramos is starting his 20th consecutive game behind the plate. And, barring any unplanned developments, he’ll be back there Friday night. And Saturday night. And Sunday afternoon.
That would give Ramos 23 consecutive starts, one more than the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina posted earlier this year.
“I will do it,” Ramos said confidently before Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field.
Why on earth would the Nationals let the 26-year-old, who tore his ACL last season and twice landed on the disabled list this season with hamstring strains, do this? Because they need to know that his body can hold up over the long haul, and because Ramos himself needs to prove to everyone he can do it.
“Normally, I wouldn’t even consider it,” Johnson said. “I’d give him time off. But with the time he’s missed over the last couple years, this — in his mind — makes everybody know that he’s durable. I think that’s what he wants to prove. And I’m all for it.”
Ramos’ offensive numbers have dropped some since he began catching every single day. He was hitting .299 with an .821 OPS when he last got a day off (Aug. 21 in Chicago). In 19 straight starts since, he’s hitting .211 with a .654 OPS.
But Ramos hasn’t been entirely unproductive at the plate, either. He has four homers and 15 RBI over these last 19 games. He also has received praise for his work behind the plate, calling games and throwing runners out trying to steal off him.
When the season ends, Ramos will only have caught about 80 games. He only caught 25 last season, so there could remain some doubt about his ability to make it through a full year healthy.
Perhaps this Iron Man streak, though, will help erase some of those doubts and allow the Nationals to enter 2014 convinced Ramos can be their everyday catcher.
“It’s very important for me,” he said. “I lost too many games early in the season, last year. Right now I feel good. I want to show the team, the manager, I can play every day, because I feel more consistent when I play every day. I want to show them this season.”