VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos caught pitches from right-hander Stephen Strasburg and left-hander Zach Duke at the team's Minor League facility on Thursday. It marked the first time Ramos was behind the plate since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against the Reds last May.
Ramos acknowledged that he was nervous before going to work on Thursday. He wondered how his knee would react when he blocked balls or squatted behind the plate. As it turned out, Ramos didn't feel any pain, but his right knee felt tired after the bullpen sessions were over. Ramos' knee was packed with ice after the session.
Ramos hopes he can start blocking balls behind the plate soon. Duke threw two balls in the dirt, but Ramos tried to catch them with his glove instead of dropping down to block them.
"I was a little bit scared behind the plate. I felt excited to be behind the plate again," Ramos said. "[During the bullpen sessions], I felt my knee getting tired, a little bit weak. I have to keep working out, trying to get my knee stronger for the next bullpen [session]."
Manager Davey Johnson has already said that he plans to start Ramos off slowly because of the knee injury. As of now, Kurt Suzuki is slated to be the No. 1 catcher.
"Hopefully I will work hard and be behind the plate for Opening Day," Ramos said. "I feel I need a little bit more time to feel … 100 percent. I feel I'm close to that. Right now, I feel like it's 90 percent. It's pretty close."
Ramos' biggest test will come when he plays in a Spring Training game.
"There is more excitement behind the plate -- block the ball, run behind first base for every ground ball to short and second," Ramos said. "You have to keep moving. It's going to be more and harder in the game. I'm working hard to be behind the plate in the game. When I start playing again, hopefully, I will be good."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.