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Posted at 05:44 PM ET, 08/01/2012

Ryan Zimmerman still out with sore back, expects to return tomorrow


(Alan Diaz - AP)
After Ryan Zimmerman said last night he planned to play today, the Nationals’ star third baseman remains out of the lineup for a second straight day with stiffness in his lower back. Zimmerman said there is a “99.99 percent” chance he returns tomorrow, but tonight Chad Tracy will play third baseman and hit third.

Zimmerman could have played, but he also welcomed the day off during a stretch in which the Nationals, because of doubleheaders, will play 34 games in 34 days.

“Nobody wants time off,” Zimmerman said. “This month is the hardest of all months, especially with the schedule we’ve had lately and that we’re going too have coming up. The doubleheaders and the games are starting to add up in August. Everyone is going to have some bumps and bruises. For Davey to be able to kind of give us, me, [Adam LaRoche], some of the guys that are banged up, a day or two here and there makes it a lot easier to get through September.”

Zimmerman feels he could pinch-hit tonight if the Nationals need him. He has not taken batting practice since the Nationals’ offday Monday. He took some dry swings yesterday and would have been available in an emergency.

“I told them, ‘Hey, if you need me in the game or if something were to happen to a couple people, I wasn’t dead,’ ” Zimmerman said. “I could come in and so some stuff. But today feels way better than yesterday. Tomorrow, it’ll feel even better with the way it’s been recovering.

“I’ll be in there tomorrow. Trace needs to get some at-bats, too. Give him some at-bats to get in the swing of things, and I’ll be in there tomorrow.”

While Zimmerman’s back has become an issue, his right shoulder has remained healthy ever since he received a cortisone shot for the inflamed joint June 24. He hoped his shoulder would heal to the point that he wouldn’t need another shot. So far, he hasn’t. Could he need another at some point?

“I wake up every morning wondering the same thing,” Zimmerman said. “But every morning I’ve woke up, it’s felt good. We just got to keep going with it, and keep doing the exercises and stuff I’ve been doing. Hopefully, it won’t come back. If it does, we’ll take the certain measures that we took before. But hopefully we won’t have to worry about that.”

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By  |  05:44 PM ET, 08/01/2012

 
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