Zimmerman plans to hit fit for the first time Friday. Whether or not that will allow him to come off the disabled list Sunday, the first day he is eligible, is “up to Zim,” Manager Davey Johnson said. And Zimmerman believes he’ll be ready.
“As long as I take groundballs and throw and stay in shape, hitting takes only two days,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s first game back, then, could be the Nationals’ showcase against the rival Phillies on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” Zimmerman, sticking to his typically even keel, said the primetime game would not motivate him to return too soon.
“It’s another game, just like next Sunday when we play [at] 1 probably,” Zimmerman said. “The whole point of this is to be here for September and to be healthy for the rest of the year. It sucks now. But it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully everything will go fine this week and good this weekend. I’ll be back soon. In September, we’ll not even remember it happened.”
Zimmerman sustained the injury while making a series of dives at third base and a head-first dive into home plate. Zimmerman’s style of play lends itself to throwing his body around constantly. It adds risk, but it also makes him one of the best defensive players in baseball, and the Nationals have no plans to alter his approach.
“He’s a gamer,” Johnson said. “He just goes all out. It’s kind of hard to put a governor on that. You really don’t want to. Every time he dives, he catches it. So I’d hate to tell him, ‘Quit diving.’ He won’t aggravate it again, hopefully.”