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."
Tough transition to second so far for Rendon
WASHINGTON -- Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon has started only 26 Major League games, but he already ranks second on the team with eight errors. Only Ryan Zimmerman (11) has more.
Rendon bobbled a ground ball in the seventh inning on Tuesday night, extending the inning and allowing a run to score. Rendon is a third baseman by trade and had played only a few games at second since Little League before replacing Danny Espinosa at the position on June 5. Manager Davey Johnson said that the transition will take time.
"[At] third base you don't have to play the ball as much, and I think he doesn't realize how much time he has that he can learn to play the ball more," Johnson said. "But he's been doing fine."
Rendon has committed five errors in 18 games at second base since being recalled to the Nationals for a second time. In his first stint with the team, he had three errors in eight starts at third base.
The 23-year-old has more than made up for his fielding troubles with his performance at the plate. Since being recalled on June 4, Rendon is batting .392 with nine doubles and a game-winning home run.
Zimmerman downplays shoulder soreness
WASHINGTON -- Ryan Zimmerman was left out of the Nationals' lineup on Tuesday because of recent soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Zimmerman said Wednesday that the soreness is not serious, and he backed up that statement by going 2-for-3 with a double in his return to the lineup in Washington's 3-2 win over Arizona.
"We looked at that date for a week to try to give me two days off to kind of help it," Zimmerman explained. "We knew we had this long stretch that's about to come up before the All-Star break, and it's a very important stretch for us, so it just made sense to give me two days right there and be ready to go."
Zimmerman had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder in October. While the rotator cuff and labrum were not damaged, doctors did have to repair Zimmerman's AC joint.
The injury has not affected the third baseman at the plate, but it has forced him to alter his arm slot when throwing to first. The surgery has been at least partially responsible for his team-high 11 errors this season.
"It's a little bit different to get to where you load and push off your back leg," manager Davey Johnson said. "I see him getting closer and closer to that. It's more of a natural throw, which is what he wanted to do from Day 1 of Spring Training, but I knew it was going to be a long haul."
Zimmerman previously has said that his shoulder is not 100 percent. He expects to be in rehab mode for the rest of the season, and to a lesser extent, the rest of his career.
"Whenever you have any sort of surgery, nothing's guaranteed," Zimmerman said. "For the most part, we haven't had really any bad times, so we've been pretty lucky."
• Johnson said that injured pitcher Christian Garcia will need four or five more outings before returning to the Nationals' bullpen. While the right forearm that landed Garcia on the 60-day disabled list is feeling OK, he has recently been dealing with shoulder issues, according to Johnson.
"He had a little fatigue in his shoulder, maybe from sometimes when you've got something else bothering you, you use something else more," Johnson said. "His velocity is still not quite where it was last year."
• General manager Mike Rizzo said that the Nationals will not re-evaluate Dan Haren's spot in the rotation until he is completely healthy.
"Like any other part of the roster, we want to see him at 100 percent," Rizzo said. "I would gauge where we are at from there."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.