WASHINGTON -- Catcher Wilson Ramos is "real close" to returning to game action, and he could rejoin the Nationals by July 4, manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday.
Johnson said that Ramos has been catching bullpen sessions at the team's complex in Viera, Fla., and the catcher has not had any additional problems with his strained left hamstring. Ramos will begin playing games in Florida on Thursday or Friday, and then begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"I'm hoping that Mr. Ramos can make it up here by [July 4]," Johnson said.
The Nationals have sorely missed Ramos, who is serving his second stint on the disabled list after aggravating the left hamstring injury that caused him to miss 14 games in April.
Ramos is hitting .250 (12-for-48) this season, but has played in only 14 games. In his absence, catchers Kurt Suzuki and Jhonatan Solano have a cumulative .204 average (44-for-216).
Johnson said that with the discussion surrounding Bryce Harper's injury, the loss of Ramos has been overlooked.
"No question," Johnson said. "He's a tremendous catcher, he's got tremendous bat potential, too. … [He's] got a little more thump in the bat."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.