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Wilson Ramos' ACL tear devastating news for Nationals, his future

Wilson Ramos' ACL tear devastating news for Nationals, his future

When Wilson Ramos collapsed to the ground clutching his right knee behind the plate at Nationals Park on Monday night, the Nats feared the worst as it was the same leg in which he had his ACL and MCL repaired back in 2012. On Tuesday, an MRI confirmed those fears. Ramos tore his ACL again and is not only out for the entirety of the postseason, but most of next year as well.

It happened in the final week of the regular season with the Nats preparing for the playoffs. It also happened just over a month before Ramos is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career.

There is never a good time to tear an ACL, but one would be hard pressed to find a worse time for Ramos to do it than now.

“This close to playoffs, his option year. There’s never an opportune time, but this was the most inopportune time for this to happen at this point," manager Dusty Baker said.

"It's unfortunate. Wilson was having an All-Star season, really a breakout season for himself. It's disappointing. I feel bad for him," GM Mike Rizzo said. 

Ramos, 29, earned an All-Star nod this year and for good reason. He hit .307 with 22 homers and 80 RBI and emerged as one of the best catchers in baseball.

Now his future hangs in the balance, as it will be much harder to get a lucrative long-term deal in free agency.

Rizzo said it was too soon to know how Ramos can return from re-tearing his ACL.

"He just did it yesterday. We just got the diagnosis. We're going to see what the doctors say and we'll make our assessments after that," Rizzo said.

Baker spoke earlier this year about his hopes for the Nats to re-sign Ramos. On Tuesday he was asked about Ramos' future and alluded to that idea again.

"It’s time for us to, I think as a whole, maybe to take care of him, too, because he’s taken pretty good care of us,” Baker said.

Any decision about Ramos will be made months from now. In the short-term, the Nats have a playoff run to consider as they chase a World Series. In for Ramos will be backups Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. Both have filled in well at times this season, but Ramos is leaving big shoes to fill.

“All of our catchers are very good catchers. It’s just that he is not only the top offensive catcher on our team, a big part of our offense, he’s one of the top offensive catchers in baseball. We’ll really miss his offense," Baker said. "I think Loby and Severino can replace (him) on defense, but it’s up to some of the other guys to offset his loss on the offensive side of the ball.”

Lobaton is dealing with a minor right ankle injury, but said he is ready to step in. He was in the starting lineup for Tuesday night's game against the Diamondbacks.

Lobaton is a good friend and longtime teammate of Ramos and spoke to him after the injury was diagnosed.

"He was sad. Anybody can be sad in that moment, in that situation. He’s been playing good all year, doing really good for the team, and now you don’t have a chance to go with the team in the playoffs," Lobaton said. "It’s really sad for me, not only for me but for the team. We’re praying for him and that he can get better soon.”

It won't be easy to move forward without Ramos, but the Nationals have no choice at this point.

[RELATED: X-ray on Bryce Harper's left thumb brings good news]

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As Bryce Harper prepares for possible final home game with Nats, take a moment to appreciate the journey to get here

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USA Today

As Bryce Harper prepares for possible final home game with Nats, take a moment to appreciate the journey to get here

As Bryce Harper plays out his final homestand of the 2018 season, and as everyone ponders the potential end of his career in Washington, one aspect of his journey to this point as a member of the Nationals stands out above all when considering what Harper and those who have watched him over the years have experienced.

Though all the hair flips, towering homers and viral quotes come to mind, Harper's tenure in D.C. may most be defined and appreciated by his faults.

That's not to harp on the negative when there have been so many positives. It's to take a moment to appreciate all the steps it took for Harper to reach this point as a player and as a man, and how those in Washington watched him day after day throughout that process.

See, if Harper does leave Washington and joins another team, maybe even a really good team, that club will receive a player who is just about a finished product. He has reached his prime and is fully-formed, having cut his teeth for seven MLB seasons. That franchise and those fans would see a completely different chapter in Harper's career and, arguably, only get to know him so well, no matter how long he plays for them.

That's because Washington Nationals fans have seen Harper grow up and learn many lessons the hard way, ever since he showed up to Nationals Park in 2010, flanked by Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras and was handed a No. 34 jersey by Ryan Zimmerman. Harper was just 17 and that day wore a black suit with a black shirt and a pink tie, the combination perhaps his first regrettable move as a pro.

With the Nats, Harper had to learn not to run into walls, to not play through certain injuries, to keep his cool with umpires. He learned through public admonishment to hit the cutoff man and to hustle to first base. He realized the power of his words and his responsibility as a face of baseball.

There were mistakes and Nats fans, for the most part, loved him for them. He was the chosen one, the guy who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 years old, the No. 1 pick and the second-coming of Mickey Mantle. But he is human with flaws like the rest of us and a lot of it didn't come easy to him like most expected.

The comparisons between Harper and Mike Trout, his closest superstar contemporary, often highlighted the perceived shortcomings in Harper's game and personality. Trout never creates controversy with his words, while Harper can with remarkable ease. Trout did not draw the ire of older players and baseball lifers like Harper did in his early days.

Right or wrong, and most of the time it was uncalled for, Harper was constantly derided by people around baseball in his first few MLB seasons. But Washington fans were always there to defend him, knowing that if you watched him every night then you too would know those small transgressions - if they can even be called transgressions - do not represent the player or the man Harper actually is.

Washington fans were the first in Major League Baseball to realize Harper had the character and humility to match his transcendent on-field talents. He loves the game of baseball and, almost all of the time, plays it as hard as anyone. Harper has been criticized for playing the game too hard about as often as he has for taking off plays.

Take a step back and Harper's tenure in Washington so far has been a clear success, even matched with the expectations bestowed upon him as a teenager. He has won the National League MVP award, won an all-time classic Home Run Derby, made six All-Star teams and the Nats have won four division titles. He has helped usher in a new generation of D.C. baseball fans. The only way to top all of that would be a deep playoff run or a championship, but no one should have expected one player to make that sort of difference, given the dynamics of baseball.

Harper isn't perfect, but he is a lot closer to it than he was when he first debuted with the Nationals in 2012. The process of him getting to this point, even if it does ultimately mark the end of his tenure, should be appreciated by Nationals fans and Harper himself. No matter how much money he makes and where he plays next season, that chapter of his career is over and Washington fans should feel grateful they were there for the entire ride.

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Former National Jayson Werth pleads guilty to DUI in Arizona

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USA Today

Former National Jayson Werth pleads guilty to DUI in Arizona

Former National Jayson Werth pled guilty last week to driving under the influence in Arizona. 

The plea deal stems from an April arrest, when Werth was at the Mariners' spring training facility in Peoria. 

He was sentenced to a diversion program, ordered drug and alcohol screening, and fined more than $1,600, along with having his driver's license suspended. 

The Mariners said it didn't affect their decisions to not call him up before he retired this summer. 

The Nationals inducted Werth into their Ring of Honor earlier this month. The team was not aware of the charges against Werth at the time, according to reports.

In January 2015, Werth pled guilty to reckless driving after he was cited for going 105 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone of the Beltway in Virginia. He served 10 days in jail for those charges.