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Tampa Bay Rays Wilson Ramos Targets May Return

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Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos (40) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Wilson Ramos may not be ready to handle the rigors of catching by the time May comes around, but he expects to return to the Tampa Bay Rays at some point during that month.

When the Tampa Bay Rays signed Wilson Ramos to a two year deal, they knew he would miss some time in 2017. After all, he had torn his ACL on September 26, which would leave him on the disabled list when Opening Day came around. However, the hope was that Ramos would return either in May or June, at least in some capacity.

According to Ramos himself, those projections may prove to be correct. Even though he would not be behind the plate, Ramos is targeting a return in May to make his Rays debut, likely as a designated hitter. However, the biggest concern is making sure that his knee is healthy.

"“I don’t have an exact date for when I’m coming back yet,” said Ramos. “My knee is feeling pretty good. My knee is getting stronger day by day. I think the therapy is doing a really good job, and very important for that. Just to get back there as quickly as I can will be most important to me.”"

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If Ramos can provide the Rays with anything close to his performance in 2016, he will be well worth the wait. In a breakout season, Ramos produced a .307/.354/.496 batting line, hitting 22 home runs. This success was also fueled by an improved batting eye, as his LASIK surgery proved successful. Ramos cut his strikeout rate to 15.1%, while drawing a walk in 6.7% of his plate appearances, a 2.5% increase over 2015.

Even though it is unlikely that Ramos will perform at that level when he returns, even 80% of that production would be a marked improvement over the typical offense that the Rays get from their catchers. Ramos is definitely an upgrade with the bat, while grading out as a strong defensive catcher as well. He was exactly what the Rays needed.

And now, it seems as though his debut will be sooner rather than later. While anything can happen, and the Rays may hold Ramos back just to be certain that he is healthy, the fact that he expects to be ready that soon is a great sign. He may not have a timetable for when he will get behind the plate, but having his bat in the lineup will still be a tremendous boost.

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We may not have long to wait to see Wilson Ramos in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup. If everything goes according to plan, he could be set to make his debut sometime in May.

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