Once again, Citi Field became the place The Buffalo roams when Wilson Ramos reported for duty today.
A key piece in the Mets lineup, the 32 year-old will be tasked again to run the pitching staff, while keeping up his strong hitting that led to a .288 average with 14 homers and 73 RBI.
Right now, the catcher is torn. He is playing the game he loves, but without his family, who he left down in Florida, including a 6 month-old son.
“It’s hard right now to be here,” Ramos said on a Zoom call with reporters. “But at the same time, I’m very happy to be here doing what we love to do. It’s hard to hear about the news about the virus in the country. But it’s something we can fight against if we follow all the protocols and everything. I think we’ll be safe and we’ll be able to play.”
The biggest difference for Ramos is communicating with his pitchers, which will have to be done at a six-foot distance. That’s probably going to be the biggest change, because a catcher generally calms down his pitcher and gives him advice. Doing it from a distance means he will have to risk having the opposition hear what’s going on.
“It will be very challenging this year,” he said and you better believe it, especially when it comes to dealing with his bullpen, particularly Edwin Diaz, the erstwhile closer, who is looking to reclaim his job.
“My mentality has always been that I am a closer, despite what even happened last year,” Diaz said. “So this offseason I went in and trained hard, I worked on different things that gave me the confidence to make me feel like I can be the closer of this team. Now, going into this second spring training, I’m going to try to prove during these next 2-3 weeks that I can be the closer of this team.”
Diaz is working on getting his release point consistent, which plagued him last year, when he posted a 5.59 ERA. Getting Diaz in shape will help put the rest of the bullpen in line.
It will help that all of this will happen at Citi Field instead of Florida or some neutral site, because with all the new rules, being in Queens will make the players comfortable.
“This is our home,” Ramos said. “Now I think we have to concentrate, be safe, follow the rules, and try to enjoy this time we spend here.”