Ramos to become primary Nationals catcher
Hot-hitting youngster to see more time; Pudge to backup role
NEW YORK -- Before his team started a three-game series against the Mets, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman indicated that catcher Wilson Ramos will get most of the playing time, while Ivan Rodriguez will spend more time on the bench. Thus far, the two catchers have split time behind the plate.
Ramos has been impressive thus far, going 5-for-14 (.357) with a run scored entering Friday's action. Rodriguez, on the other hand, has been hitless in 10 at-bats.
"As we move forward, Ramos is going to get more and more playing time," Riggleman said. "He is more impressive the more he plays. ... I don't think he is at a point where being a No. 2 catcher is really going to benefit us or him. He is going to move in there and play more and more."
The move to make Ramos the Nationals' No. 1 catcher has been in the works for weeks. There was even talk about Ramos starting on Opening Day. The only tough part was how Rodriguez was going to respond to being benched. Fortunately for the Nationals, Rodriguez took the news well. Rodriguez went so far as to say that he plans to help Ramos become an even better player.
"We knew he could catch and throw," Riggleman said about Ramos. "We heard good things about his hitting. ... There were enough good things that we felt he was not only going to be a good defensive guy, but he is going to hit, also. So far, he has answered that."
Storen getting job done with heat
NEW YORK -- Of the four Nationals relievers who pitched in Thursday's 5-3 victory over the Marlins, right-hander Drew Storen was arguably the most dominating. He pitched two shutout innings and struck out three batters. It helped that Storen used mostly his fastball to get hitters out.
"I'm working off my fastball more," Storen said. "I was able to throw my two-seamer in and put my four seamer in the right spot. [Catcher Wilson] Ramos and I were on the same page. I didn't throw too many sliders, but when I did, they were decent."
Riggleman said that if the Nationals were able to take the lead in the ninth inning, Storen would have remained in the game to help secure his first victory.
Although Sean Burnett has saved two games, the Nationals have yet to name Burnett the closer. Riggleman already announced that Storen and Burnett would split the role.
Storen said he is not concerned about being Washington's closer.
"Burney is doing a great job. He has had two good saves so far," Storen said. "If I'm sent to do the role, that is fine with me. Winning is the most fun with me. If I get saves out of it, that's fine. If I get holds, that's great. As long as we are winning, that is my main concern. Wins are going to be more fun than any save."
Relief help may be on the way
NEW YORK -- If the Nationals need relief help in the future, don't look for them to go outside the organization.
They will most likely activate right-hander Henry Rodriguez from the disabled list and recall right-hander Collin Balester.
There is no timetable as to when both players will be with the club. Rodriguez is currently in a rehab assignment and pitched two shutout innings and struck out three batters for Double-A Harrisburg.
Balester had an outstanding Spring Training, but wasn't put on the 25-man roster because he had Minor League options.
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.