Ryan Zimmerman found the good side of his trip to the disabled list. He visited specialist Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles today and received a second anti-inflammatory injection, which ensured he would land on the disabled list. But the visit also reinforced his belief that he will return shortly after he becomes eligible May 6.
“It’s disappointing,” Zimmerman said. “I obviously want to play. It’s good to know we have some closure on it. It’s not going to be very long at all. Hopefully I’ll look back on it September and I won’t even remember it.”
ElAttrache reviewed Zimmerman’s MRI results and concluded, again, that Zimmerman has no structural damage in his shoulder.
“There’s nothing there,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll let relax for the weekend. I’ll be able to throw and stuff Tuesday. Once I start hitting, it doesn’t take me too long to get going hitting. Once everything feels good, then we can go.”
The Nationals’ success also helped Zimmerman put a happy face on his second trip to the disabled list in as many seasons. Starting 14-5, “there’s not too much to be upset about,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll take our time, get it right and let these guys keep doing what they’ve been doing for the first 20 games, and I’ll be back here before you know it.”
Zimmerman also found a silver lining in how the Nationals chose his replacement. That would be Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old phenom whom the Nationals recalled while prioritizing winning over development.
“He has too many things that can help us win games,” Zimmerman said. “That’s the goal up here now. Two or three years ago, it was, let’s prepare these kids and make sure they’re ready to play whenever we get good. Well, whenever we get good is now.
“It’s cool to be a part of that. It’s rewarding to look back on when it wasn’t fun to be a National. It’s always been fun, but it wasn’t as fun as it is now. It’s very rewarding to go through what a lot of us in this room have gone through.”
It is possible, given the might of the modern hype machine and peculiarity of social media, that no baseball has traveled a path to the majors like Harper. Zimmerman has some perspective, though. He arrived at the major leagues at 20, just a few months after he was drafted.
“The best advice is, baseball is baseball,” Zimmerman said. “Obviously, this is the highest level of baseball. You can’t compare it to anything. The bases are the same. The pitching mound is the same. Once you get past the awe of the big leagues, you realize, ‘This is the same game I’ve played my whole life.’
“It’s better competition. I think him being in spring training the last couple years and getting to know us all, and us getting to develop relationships with him, makes it easier for him to come up to us ask questions. It makes it easy for us. It’s going to help out a lot.”
Zimmerman also had no concerns about Harper’s ability to handle the majors, or to handle the possibility that he won’t succeed right away.
“Bryce is the kind of kid that, he’s very confident,” Zimmerman said. “He knows he’s a good player. But you have to be like that in baseball. He’ll be able to handle whatever it is, whether he comes up and goes back down or comes up and stays up. Bryce is very mentally tough for his age.”