The Nationals removed both third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Ivan Rodriguez from tonight’s lineup, each with injuries that will shelve them for several days but not threaten their status for once the regular season begins.
Zimmerman felt tightness on the right side of his groin, Manager Jim Riggleman said, and did not travel with the Nationals to their game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. If he suffered the injury during the regular season, Zimmerman would “probably play, but play it a little safe,” Riggleman said. Zimmerman will sit at least the next four games.
One person close to Zimmerman said the Nationals are being extra cautious, and if Zimmerman had a similar ailment during the regular he would miss no games.
The groin ailment is unrelated to the minor abdominal strain that held Zimmerman out for three games last week. Zimmerman typically does not rely heavily on spring training at-bats to prepare for the season, so the Nationals are not concerned about the combined toll the minor injuries have taken on his playing time.
“He’s the type of guy, he feels like he doesn’t need many spring training at-bats,” Riggleman said. “We’ll be real careful about how we bring him back.”
Rodriguez came with the Nationals to Port St. Lucie and pulled his left calf muscle while warming up in left field before batting practice. Riggleman said Rodriguez would “definitely not” play with the injury during the regular season, but Rodriguez does not think it will be an issue.
“It’s no big deal,” Rodriguez said. “There’s no reason to risk it now. I’m ready to start the season.”
The removal of Zimmerman and Rodriguez left the Nationals with a skeleton lineup with Ian Desmond, Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny as the only regular starters. Riggleman said he would apologize to Mets Manager Terry Collins.
“You go on the road in spring training and only bring two starters, that’s disrespectful to the fans,” Riggleman said. “You never want to do that. But that’s kind of what we ended up with.”
Here is the new lineup, the first with no designated hitter of the spring:
1. Roger Bernadina, RF
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Jerry Hairston, 3B
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Michael Morse, LF
6. Rick Ankiel, CF
7. Jesus Flores, C
8. Danny Espinosa, 2B
9. Tom Gorzelanny