One year removed from kidnapping, Wilson Ramos trying to focus on rehab from knee surgery

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Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Wilson Ramos being kidnapped from his home in Venezuela. The harrowing ordeal has made an indelible imprint on his memory, but he told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post yesterday that he’s much more focused on rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee.

“The truth is that I’m happy to be out of the situation,” Ramos said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon after his physical therapy session ended. “I know it’s been a year and remembering it, it was a sad moment and I hope to get away from it and forget about it. It’ll be hard to totally forget something like that. But, overall, I’m pretty calm now and worrying totally about my recovery. And I think that’s more important for me, taking care of my knee.”

Ramos appeared in 25 games with the Nationals this season prior to injuring his knee while chasing a passed ball behind the plate on May 12. He ended up needing surgeries to repair tears of both his ACL and meniscus. The 25-year-old hasn’t returned to Venezuela since the offseason, as he’s currently staying in the Washington, D.C. area, but he plans to make a visit once his rehab is over.

As for his progress from the surgeries, Ramos isn’t ready to run quite yet, but he can exercise on a stationary bike and do full body workouts with weights. He has dropped 10 pounds and plans to lose more weight, so we could have a best shape of his life candidate here. The hope is that he’ll be ready by the time pitchers and catchers report in February, though the Nationals will likely ease him into Grapefruit League action. Ramos is still considered the catcher of the future in Washington, but with Kurt Suzuki under contract for 2013, the Nationals can afford to give him all the time he needs.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.