Nationals’ Ramos moving on after kidnapping ordeal
Three months have passed since Wilson Ramos’ budding baseball
career was interrupted by a gunpoint kidnapping in his native
Yet there the 24-year-old catcher was Tuesday, smiling and
laughing alongside his Washington Nationals teammates during their
first full workout for pitchers and catchers.
Immediately following his ordeal, Ramos was emotional and candid
in talking about the harrowing two days he was held in the
Venezuelan mountains before being freed by an equally daring,
Now as he prepares for his second full season in Washington,
Ramos said he has put the ordeal behind him and wants to only talk
about baseball going forward.
”I feel like I’m living again,” Ramos said. ”I’ve got a new
life. Everybody in my family is happy with me. My family before was
a little separated, and now everybody’s together. So that’s good
for me and my family. I’m happy for that and I will play hard for
my family and my team.”
Last season Ramos became the primary catcher for the Nationals,
appearing in 113 games.
In line to be the opening day starter in 2012, he decided to go
home to Venezuela to play winter ball to prepare.
Before he could play his first game, however, Ramos was seized
outside his parents’ home one night and driven away by his
abductors. It was the first known kidnapping of a Major League
Baseball player in Venezuela, and the abduction set off an
outpouring of candlelight vigils and public prayers at stadiums as
well as outside the family home.
After his rescue he spent only about a week recuperating before
rejoining the Aragua Tigers. Just 13 days after his rescue he was
on the field and in uniform for their opening day.
He initially struggled during the Tigers’ 25-game regular
season, hitting just .217 with one home run and 21 strikeouts. But
following the car accident death of teammate Rosman Garcia, who
pitched for the Texas Rangers in 2003 and 2004, something clicked
for Ramos and his winter league teammates.
They reached the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs and
eventually won the championship series, with Ramos going 9 for
”I was more relaxed and not thinking too much at the end of the
season,” Ramos said. ”That thing helped me a lot to finish
strong. When we lost one of our teammates, it was very hard for us.
And we concentrated on winning the finals…That thing helped the
team to play harder. We dedicated that final to him.”
Ramos said there was never any hesitation about continuing his
winter league season after his kidnapping.
”I played there because I wanted to get my mind on baseball,”
he said. ”If I stayed in my house I was thinking too much. I
played baseball there because I was trying to clear my mind.”
He said the reception he got from the fans there was equally
helpful for him.
”They give me a lot of support,” Ramos said. ”They believe in
me, so they helped me a lot with everything. During the games
everybody clapped their hands and said a lot of good words for me.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson watched Tuesday as Ramos caught
for Stephen Strasburg during bullpen work and said he has no doubt
that Ramos can live up the expectations they have for him this
With a productive Ramos, he said he thinks the Nationals’
catchers are among the best in baseball.
”He was catching Strasburg and I asked him how much baseball he
got in after that ordeal and he said `A month and a half.’ And so
to me…as far as I’m concerned that thing’s over. It’s history,”
Johnson said. ”And it tells me that he was eager to get on the
field and eager to put it behind him by playing a month and a half
of winter ball after something like that.”
Likewise, since reporting to the Nationals, Ramos said his
teammates have honored his wishes and not discussed what happened
Mechanically, Johnson said Ramos looks ”awfully good” and has
made improvements in areas he suggested for him heading into the
While Ramos is clearly moving on from his kidnapping, he did get
a living memorial to it tattooed on his arm recently.
First there is the date -11/11/11- for the day he was rescued.
There are also words written in Spanish, which Ramos happily
”I put everything in Jesus because he’s got my back,” he
Ramos said he anticipates opening day in Washington to be extra
special after everything he’s been through.
”Yeah, because I want to catch the first game,” he said. ”If
the team gives me that opportunity, I will be very
excited…Hopefully fans will stand up, wave their hands and say a
couple of good words for me. I want to hear that.”