Nationals Confident in Reserve Catchers After Loss of Wilson Ramos

WASHINGTON — The Nationals received unfortunate news Tuesday for All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right ACL, suffered in the sixth inning of Monday’s loss to Arizona.

“It’s horrible. It’s terrible,” said Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa. “I couldn’t imagine what he’s going through personally, what his family is. To have a career year like this and to be such a huge part of this team, and then to have this happen for the second time, it’s heartbreaking for him and for the team.”

Ramos suffered a similar injury in 2012, a torn ACL which also caused him to miss the postseason for the surprise 98-win Nationals. This time around, Ramos was in the midst of a career year, hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI. He also made his first All-Star appearance.

“It makes it difficult, to see him go through another injury,” Espinosa said. “It’s difficult to see him go through that. Anybody that goes through injury, you don’t want to see anybody get hurt, if it’s an opponent or a teammate. To see him to have gone through another tough injury like this again, on such a great season and everything he’s done for our team, it’s tough to see.”

“We’re very, very fortunate that we have a starting catcher in José Lobatón,” Espinosa noted.

“We’re praying for him, that he can get better soon,” Lobatón said. “I talked to him. He was sad. Anybody can be sad in that moment, that situation, playing good all year and doing really good for the team and now you don’t have the chance to go with the team in the playoffs.”

“I know the team is feeling the same way,” he said. “We’re going to keep Willy with us in our hearts and hopefully he can see us on TV or at least when we play here, he can see us beating the other team.”

The Nationals will likely turn to Lobatón in Ramos’ absence to guide the second best pitching staff in baseball — with a collective 3.51 ERA — through their final six games and into the postseason. 23-year-old Pedro Severino, who’s batting .350 in 20 big league at-bats this season, is another option.

Prior to announcing Ramos’ injury, Washington also called up 25-year-old catcher Spencer Kieboom, their fifth-round pick in 2012, from Double-A Harrisburg to make his big league debut. Kieboom is hitting .230/.324/.314 and has 11 doubles, 5 home runs and 31 RBI in 2016.

“It’s the second time that happened to me,” Lobatón said. “My first year here, Willy got hurt. It’s not what I want, but it’s an opportunity that I have to take. It’s a lot of responsibility for me to play, to do my best and help the team to stay and win the World Series. That’s what we want.”

On the influx of innings he’ll likely see, Lobatón said, “I haven’t played back-to-back, or three or four games in a row since, I don’t know, the beginning of the season, but I’m ready. I’m always ready. Whatever happens, I’ll be there.”

The Nationals aren’t distracted in their pursuit of the ultimate prize, despite the crushing loss.

“Every year I’ve been here, we’ve had injuries and we’ve had guys replaced and guys have stepped up and we’ve been able to keep moving on,” said Espinosa, who’s in his seventh season with the Nationals. “So it’s another year where it’s happened.”

“I think for the most part we were pretty fortunate this year to get through a lot of the year without having to deal with it the whole season,” he added. “But it’s one of those things you deal with. I mean, it happens. You keep moving on. I think all of us have the confidence in Jose and in Severino that we’re going to be just fine.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter.

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