Ryan Zimmerman takes full batting practice, nearing return

Ryan Zimmerman got through his first full batting practice session since injuring his right shoulder and said it “felt good,” a positive sign as the Nationals third baseman expects to return to play on Tuesday.

Zimmerman took swings in the cage and reported that it felt fine. After taking regular batting practice and “hitting like I would in a game,” he again said that the shoulder wasn’t an issue. He said he plans to take batting practice on Monday, the Nationals’ off day, before his slated return against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, also the same day first baseman Adam LaRoche expects to return.

Even though Zimmerman is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, he was weary of rushing back from the injury. He last played in the Nationals’ 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins on April 20. Sunday’s game will be the 13th game he has missed.

“I already hit before so this is more now getting out and seeing the ball and trying to get as many swings before Tuesday and kind of get back into it,” he said.

Zimmerman suffered the injury while making a series of dives at third base and a head-first dive into home plate, his typical style of play that he said he intends not to change despite recent injuries, including an abdominal injury that required surgery last season.

“I’m going to continue to dive,” he said. “I’ve played the way I’ve played for seven years. This is the first time [the shoulder has] ever acted up.”

Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ 19-year-old phenom outfielder, has recently hit third in the lineup, Zimmerman’s usual spot in the order. Asked where he would hit once he returned, Zimmerman answered with a smile: “That’s not my call. I’ll hit wherever they put me.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.

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