Rays eager to see how quickly hard-working Ramos can return
First, the Rays have to wait for new C Wilson Ramos to report to camp in Port Charlotte, as word is he will be delayed a day or two having been rehabbing in south Florida.
More significant will be how long they have to wait for Ramos, the All-Star signed as a free agent from Washington, to recover from his right knee ACL surgery and join their lineup, with good progress and no hints of any setbacks reported thus far.
Ramos said after signing a two-year, $12.5-million contract in December that he expected to be able to play as a DH sometime in May, and then return to duty behind the plate after that.
Rays officials have talked of a more conservative timetable, which would push his initial action more likely in June, but are open to seeing how much quickly Ramos can progress.
"We're going to learn as he goes along,'' senior VP Chaim Bloom said Monday. "We've talked about it before, we don't know exactly when (he'll return). We know he's got very high expectations for when he'll be able to make it back, and that's great. He has worked his tail off trying to get back on the field, and he's very motivated. He really wants to make an impact. So we're not going to hold him back. We just don't want to do anything to jeopardize his health.''
When Ramos does return, the Rays will have one of the game's most dynamic catchers, who in 2016 with Washington hit .307 with 22 homers, 80 RBIs and an .850 OPS before being injured late in the season. Without the injury, he could have been in line for a hefty deal in excess of $50-million. Instead, he signed with the Rays, welcoming the chance to have the option of DHing and taking a two-year deal to eliminate any pressure either way of rushing this season.