Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
The Washington Nationals welcome former 3B Coach Bo Porter and the AL West's Houston Astros into Space Coast Stadium today for Grapefruit League action. Dan Haren will be on the hill for the Nats and new closer Rafael Soriano is expected to pitch competitively for the first time this Spring.
Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson was asked this morning how tough a gig former Nats' 3B coach Bo Porter has taken on in leading the AL West's Houston Astros in Porter's first job as a major league manager. "I think he's the perfect man for the job," Johnson said, "I know that he's a big loss here, but I think he's fully prepared to be an outstanding manager in the major leagues. [He's] in a rebuilding program, obviously, and he's very fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game and he's a great judge of talent. So I look for him to be there a long time."
"It's great when you can be in your hometown, "Johnson said of Porter, a Houston-native, "It doesn't get any better than that. I wish him nothing but the best. I've talked to him over the winter on numerous occasions and I'm sure he's going to do a great job." It's going to be a tough job, however. Porter and the Astros are in Space Coast Stadium today to take on the Nats and new starter Dan Haren. Haren will be making his second start of the Spring after facing the Miami Marlins in Grapefruit League action last week. Catching Haren will be Wilson Ramos, returning to catching after seeing his first action of the Spring as a DH this past Sunday.
As for any concerns Johnson might have about Ramos as the catcher works his way back from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, the Nats' skipper said he was just taking it slowly with the Nats' 25-year-old backstop as they have throughout the rehab process. But Ramos is ready. "From day one he's showed up in camp he's done everything that every other catcher in camp has done," Johnson said, "The hardest thing was to get the medical people to sign off on him and once we got that, once he did his sliding drills, immediately I got him some at bats. And I think, with this [game] today, again, I'm not as concerned about him catching, he's a great defensive catcher, [as] I am about his bat because he's been out for over a half a year and didn't play winter ball."
As Johnson noted earlier in today's pregame press conference, Ramos' bat looked okay when he doubled in what was the catcher's second at bat on Sunday, leading to the eventual winning run. Ramos will get another shot to show the Nationals he's back and ready to go this afternoon. 1:05 pm EST for the Nats and Astros. This one's only available on the radio via MLB's Gameday Audio or the At Bat app. Who's Listening to the Nationals?
• Here's today's Opening Day-ish lineup:
Today's #Nationals lineup vs. HOU: Span 8, Werth 9, Harper 7, Zimmerman DH, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Ramos 2, Tracy 5. Haren P— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) March 5, 2013