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Ramos proud of new mark for games caught

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Ramos proud of new mark for games caught

PHILADELPHIA — Wilson Ramos didn't realize it until informed Tuesday afternoon. But upon learning he had played in his 114th game of the season the previous night, establishing a new career high, the Nationals catcher couldn't hold back a wide smile.

"You tell me that right now, and it makes me feel excited," he said. "I've been working really, really hard to be healthy to be behind the plate for a lot of games. And this year I did it well. It makes me feel good, because I'm doing what I was working for. It feels really good."

Since appearing in 113 games as a rookie in 2011, Ramos had been striving to make it through a full season healthy. And he simply hadn't been able to do it, limited to a grand total of 191 games from 2012-14.

At last, though, he has pulled it off, thanks in large part (he believes) to the work he did before ever arriving in Viera for spring training. A rigorous conditioning and strengthening program has allowed him to avoid the kind of leg injuries that hampered him so many times before and allowed him to maintain his weight through the grind of a long year.

"All the work I did before the season helped me for the season," he said. "I think that helped me to be healthy. All I did, I did well."

Ramos on Tuesday was slated to catch his 113th game, a number that trails only the Padres' Derek Norris (a former Nationals prospect) in the NL. (His two other appearances this year came as a DH and pinch-hitter.) If he maintains his current pace, he'll finish the season with 128 games behind the plate, easily surpassing his longstanding goal of 120.

So, how does Ramos feel physically at this point in the season?

"I feel good," he insisted. "It's not easy to be behind the plate for 113 games, but that's my job and I've been working for that. I don't feel anything tired on my body right now. When I get home after the season, maybe I'll feel it. But when I come here every day, I'm mentally strong and ready."

The heavy workload may or may not have had a negative effect on Ramos' offensive performance. He has been inconsistent at the plate throughout the season, resulting in a .237 batting average, 13 homers, 47 RBI and .633 OPS that ranks 22nd out of 24 major-league catchers with at least 300 plate appearances.

"I know I can do better than I did this season," he said. "But it happens in baseball. I'm working hard to be consistent every time. This year, I had some really long slumps, for me. But I didn't put my head down. I kept working. And after that, I had an 11-game hitting streak. That's what I want to do. I want to be consistent."

Offensive inconsistencies aside, Ramos' work behind the plate has satisfied the Nationals. His 44.7 percent caught-stealing rate is tops among all big-league catchers with at least 40 innings played this season. His 10.3 defensive rating, according to Fangraphs, rank second in the NL behind only Yadier Molina.

"It's a demanding position, for sure, and I think he's held up just fine," manager Matt Williams said. "He's done a nice job of throwing guys out, blocking the baseball and making sure he's keeping our guys competitive within the game. He's done great. It's difficult for any catcher, but he wants to play every day. He has desire to do that, and I think he's kept himself in good shape and he's prepared."

MORE NATIONALS: Werth laments "opportunity lost" this season

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm