Nats' Ramos returns to D.C.

Nats' Ramos returns to D.C.
November 18, 2011, 8:09 pm
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By Benjamin Standig
CSNwashington.comDespite having spoken on the phone with Wilson Ramos at length in the days following the 24-year-olds harrowing kidnapping and subsequent rescue, Nationals general manager Mike Ramos needed to see the young Venezuelan in the flesh. Sure, there were practical reasons for flying Ramos from his homeon the outskirtsof Valenciato Washington, like giving the promising catcher aphysical evaluation a week after having been rescued from his armed abductors. Then there were themost basic of human reasons.Wilson is here to, really, for me to lay eyes on him, to give him a hug and too make sure hes OK, said a relieved and emotional Rizzo, who joined Ramos in the Nationals clubhouse for Friday afternoon's conference. Ramos arrived in town Thursday night and in Rizzo's office Friday morning.It was great, seeing Wilson walking through the hallways of the ballpark and the offices, Rizzo said. A lot of things go through your mind when its happening. It was really refreshing to lay eyes on him. Ive spoken to him several times, but it was just to see him was nice.Ramos underwent a physical exam Friday morning and Rizzo said his catcher"is in great shape," and in good spirts. "When we were speaking in my office, he was happy, healthy joking around with the same sense of humor that he had at the end of the season."Ramos appeared relaxed sitting next to Rizzo on a leather coach in the otherwise empty clubhouse, his jersey hanging from a locker situated behind the two men.Thanks to the fans for your prayers and your support. Im happy to be here, happy to be with my family. See you in spring training, said Ramos, who made only a brief statement in English and Spanish. Scheduled to fly back to Venezuela Friday night, Ramos will begin playing for Tigres de Aragua on Tuesday. Venezuela authorities have charged eight people in the Ramos kidnapping.Rizzo said the Nationals never had a second thought about letting Ramos return to play in his homeland, though an enhanced security plan is being implemented. It will remain for Ramos family when the catcher returnsstateside in February for spring training and the 2012 season.We feel good that weve addressed the concerns of security in Venezuela and we feel that Wilson is going to be there safe, sound and happy, said Rizzo, who acquiredthe emerging catcherin a trade with the Minnesota Twins during the 2010 season. Ramos swatted 15 home runs last seasonin Washington and became a fan favorite during his first full major league campaign. Wilson was so emotional and so thankful from all the positives responses we got from the citizens and fans of DC, he almost insisted that he touch down here, Rizzo said. "Because, you can imagine, it was very inconvenient for him to come here for a couple days. But he really wanted to get here and to thank the people of DC. The vigil that we had out at the park, really struck home with him."Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, working out at NationalsPark with second baseman prospect Steve Lombardozzi, embraced his teammate as the press conference ended, affectionately rubbing his head.With his young catcher, his "family" member safe, Rizzo is ready to move on."This puts an exclamation point and a finality to the incident," Rizzo said."Were not going to dwell on that, were not going talk about that from this day forward. Suffice it to say it was a harrowing experience were glad thats in our past."