VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Wilson Ramos is about a week away from appearing in a game as the designated hitter. Before he plays in that game, though, Ramos must be able to slide.
Ramos missed most of last season because of a devastating right knee injury. Johnson said the strength in the knee is about 95 percent. The team's doctor, Wiemi Douoguih, will look at Ramos this weekend and make the final decision on when the catcher will start playing again.
"My concern is, [Ramos] is doing everything and I would like to get him some at-bats -- just get him some playing time," Johnson said. "He is swinging [the bat] real well and he is looking real good. The sooner I can get him some at-bats -- every other day or something -- I'll have more of a comfort zone that he'll be ready by Opening Day. But that all depends on the medical team."
Ramos, who is slated to be the backup catcher behind Kurt Suzuki, acknowledged he is in a hurry to get back on the field, but realizes he needs to take his time.
"I have one month to get ready, and I'm pretty close," Ramos said. "Hopefully, I'll be ready for the season. That's where I want to be. I'm the type of player where I don't need [too many at-bats] to get ready. I get ready [quickly]. I think with a couple of games here, I will be ready for the season."
On a scale of one-to-100, Ramos said the knee feels "95 percent now. When I came back from Venezuela, it was feeling like 80 percent."
Overcoming nerves key for Haren in first start
VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Dan Haren acknowledged he was nervous before pitching his first game for the Nationals, but he was solid in a 5-1 loss to the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The nervousness showed in the beginning, as Haren got off to a slow start in the first inning. Christian Yelich led off with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano to make it 1-0. Matt Downs followed and singled to left field before Joe Mahoney reached base on an error by Haren to put runners on first and second. But Haren managed to get out of the inning when Alfredo Silverio grounded out to third baseman Chad Tracy and Chris Coghlan struck out.
Haren pitched two innings, allowing the one run on two hits while fanning three.
"It felt good, especially as I was going along. It was kind of a circus to start," Haren said. "The Marlins really came out aggressive. … I was a little out of sorts in the beginning. I fell behind guys. It's not my game to be [behind] 1-0 or 3-0. As the game started going, I was throwing more first-pitch strikes and getting better looks."
Haren, who has won 119 games over 10 years in the Major Leagues, was not afraid to admit that he had butterflies in his stomach.
"Every time I've taken the mound in my career, there are nerves," Haren said. "I was nervous waking up today. If you are not nervous, you shouldn't even do it anymore. But this is what gets us going -- competing. It starts today."
Haren threw mostly fastballs and cutters, and he is looking to throw more fastballs inside on right-handed hitters.
"My game is all command, control -- keeping guys off balance, in and out," Haren said. "That's got to be a part of my game this year. I started doing it in September last year. I was getting beat over the plate too much. I had a lot more success at the end of the year. I came in and I'm dedicated to working inside of the plate this year."
After signing a one-year, $13 million contract with the Nationals last December, Haren joined a formidable rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. Haren says he is feeling comfortable in his new surroundings.
"Any time coming into a new clubhouse, it's difficult," Haren said. "You are basically thrown in with a bunch of guys and you have to become friends with them. And I'm more of an introverted personality, so it's a little more difficult for me. I'm starting to get to know the guys. Guys are opening up to me, and I'm opening up to them.
"It's going to be a journey, it's going to be a fun year. I've heard nothing but good things from guys that I know. Adam LaRoche and [Chad] Tracy. Those guys have told me that the guys are great, and I can't wait to go out and go to war with these guys."
Soriano, Young on track to pitch next week
VIERA, Fla. -- Right-handers Chris Young and Rafael Soriano are expected to be pitching in a game for the Nationals next week, according to manager Davey Johnson.
Young, signed last week, had a live bullpen session on Wednesday and will pitch behind left-hander Ross Detwiler on March 3 against the Cardinals. When Detwiler goes to the World Baseball Classic, Young will take his spot in the rotation.
As for Soriano, after having a live bullpen session, he talked to pitching coach Steve McCatty and worked out a schedule for the rest of Spring Training.
Soriano, whom Johnson decided to start slowly, will make eight relief appearances and won't face a National League East team. Additionally, he will pitch consecutive games only once this spring. Soriano's first appearance will be against the Astros on March 5.
Kimball impressing Nats with work on mound
VIERA, Fla. -- It appeared that it was a long shot for reliever Cole Kimball to make the Nationals' Opening Day roster.
However, after watching Kimball pitch two shutout innings this spring, manager Davey Johnson plans to keep an open mind when it comes to the right-hander.
Kimball, who missed most of the last two years because of a shoulder injury, could make the team if Christian Garcia doesn't recover from his forearm injury.
"I'm really pleased with the progress he has made," Johnson said. "A lot of people didn't think he would even come back. He showed a lot of improvement from his first outing to his second outing. He looked freer and the ball was coming out better out of his hand. So that is good news."
• Will Ohman hasn't been able to play in a game because of hamstring issues. There is no timetable on when he will be able to play in a game.
• Henry Rodriguez will throw a live bullpen Thursday. Rodriguez has yet to play in a game because of problems with his right biceps.
• Garcia said his forearm is feeling better, and he hopes to start playing catch by the end of the week or next week.
• Quote of the Day: "I'm still trying to learn their names."
-- Johnson on the new-look Marlins
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.