Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman felt little improvement in the inflamed AC joint in his right shoulder after taking brief batting practice this afternoon, increasing his chances of landing on the disabled list.
Zimmerman will visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles for further examination and treatment. Then the Nationals will decide whether to place him on the disabled list. Zimmerman will likely receive a cortisone shot, or something similar.
“Hopefully, it’ll just continue to get a little bit better,” Zimmerman said. “It’s easier to take your time when you’re 14-4, so we got that going. But it’s frustrating. You work hard all offseason to get healthy. You go through something like this where you can’t really do anything about it.”
The Nationals have played shorthanded for four games already as Zimmerman waits for his shoulder to heal. But they are comfortable waiting before placing him on the disabled list in case he improves. Zimmerman and the Nationals feel certain his shoulder is structurally intact and he will not miss a large number of games.
“He’s our best player,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “My three-hole hitter. I don’t like the idea of him missing another 10 days, but if that’s what’s going to be the best for him to be not missing any time and get it cleared up, we’ll take that course.”
Zimmerman has been feeling the discomfort since he jammed his right shoulder making several diving plays during the Nationals’ recent homestand. He felt some improvement today, but not enough.
“It’s one of those things that’s frustrating, because there’s really nothing you can for it,” Zimmerman said. “It’s like I’ve been saying the whole time, it’s like a sprained ankle. We’re going to get some medicine and hope that gets rid of it, and then go from there.
“Could I get a shot and play? If it was September, I would probably do it. To do that for five and a half months would probably not be the best thing for this year or the next years. It’s kind of a long-term decision.”
Unlike last year, when he tore a muscle in his abdomen, Zimmerman can stay in shape. His shoulder only hurts when he swings, and even then it is not an intense pain.
“I don’t like, drop the bat,” Zimmerman said. “I can finish my swing and hit the ball okay on flips. It’s hard to explain. It’s not like a catch or a pop or a pinch. It’s kind of like a discomfort that doesn’t let me be aggressive and swing the bat like I usually swing the bat.”
Wednesday, Johnson said Zimmerman would have to travel back to Washington to receive more treatment if he was unable to swing. But Nationals team doctor Wiemi Douoguih is familiar with several physicians at the clinic of Dr. Frank Jobe, the inventor of Tommy John surgery, and ElAttrache is one. Johnson said ElAttrache once operated on his shoulder.
“He’ll be in good hands over there,” Johnson said. “He looks like a movie star, ElAttrache. He’s too damn handsome to cut on me. But I let him.”