Challenges still await Ramos

Challenges still await Ramos
November 13, 2011, 1:56 pm
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Wilson Ramos slept comfortably in his own bed last night, just as millions of Venezuelans and Nationals fans were able to sleep comfortably knowing the 24-year-old catcher was safe, healthy and with family members following a harrowing ordeal.

But Ramos' journey back from a 51-hour abduction that gripped his homeland and left everyone associated with the Nationals on edge is not yet complete. He still faces many challenges as he attempts to regain a sense of normalcy to a life that was forever changed Wednesday night when he was whisked away in an SUV by four kidnappers.

And there's no telling how long it will take Ramos to regain that feeling, if he ever does. Though he wasn't physically injured by his captors, Ramos did say that "psychologically, I underwent very great harm."

That damage won't disappear simply because he's returned home. The scars will remain the rest of his life, and it's impossible to know how they will affect him.

Ramos, a soft-spoken man who rarely seeks the spotlight, also must deal with his new-found celebrity. Baseball fans in Venezuela already knew him; now the entire nation is invested in his saga. Here in the United States, Ramos has gone from just another young ballplayer trying to make a name for himself in the majors to a well-known name and face that will continue to be the center of attention for some time.

Every time he steps to the plate next season -- whether at home or on the road -- Ramos is going to receive more attention than he's ever gotten before. He's also going to have tell his story over and over again, as reporters flock to his locker come spring training.

Make no mistake, this will be an adjustment for a young catcher who is not used to this kind of attention.

The Nationals certainly know this already and are going to take steps to help Ramos navigate his way through these uncharted waters. His teammates will be at his side throughout, as well, offering friendship, guidance and support.

Ramos says he wants to try to resume his baseball life as he planned to do all along. He wants to play at least a few games for his Venezuelan winter club. He will help his family move into a new, larger house in a nicer area of Valencia (a move that was already in the works before his abduction).

And come February, he'll report to Viera along with the rest of the Nationals' pitchers and catchers, eager to begin preparing for a new season.

Ramos should be able to enjoy some solace and sense of normalcy once he's in the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium or at the adjacent practice fields, catching bullpen sessions from various pitchers.

But the true test will come during those quiet moments of solitude, when Ramos lies in bed at night, trying to rest comfortably and block out mental images of the last few days.

His story has been forever changed, and though he is once again safe and sound with his family, none of us knows what happens in the next chapter of Wilson Ramos' life.