There are a handful of major leaguers who can make their contemporaries marvel at what they do, who can take your breath away even in spring training, and Ryan Zimmerman is one of them. Wednesday morning in the Nationals clubhouse, three relievers stood in a circle trying to figure out what, exactly, Zimmerman had done the night before.
We are getting to this a couple days late, but it is worth it. With runners on first and second in the fifth inning, Tigers outfielder Don Kelly deadened a perfect sacrifice bunt toward third base. Zimmerman charged the ball and picked it up still on the run, his momentum carrying him toward home plate.
Most third baseman, the pitchers agreed, would have held the ball and lived with the bases being loaded. Some may have tried to fire to first and retire Kelly. Perhaps none, they decided, would have done what Zimmerman chose to do.
Zimmerman, at this point closer to home plate than the pitchers’ mound, planted his left foot. With his body still moving toward home, he whipped a submarine throw, about 80 degrees behind him, that whistled past his left hip.
The ball arced and curled right to second base. When it arrived in time to retire the runner, Danny Espinosa seemed almost surprised. It could have been bases loaded, no outs. Or two runners in scoring position. Zimmerman had turned it into runners on the corners with one out, a double-play ball away from the inning ending.
Wednesday night, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson was asked for the third basemen he believed could have made that kind of play, that kind of ridiculous throw.
“Brooksie makes it,” Johnson said.
Brooks Robinson. Anyone else?
“Schmidty makes it,” Johnson said.
“But they wouldn’t have made it,” Johnson added, “like Zim made it.”
FROM THE POST
Chien-Ming Wang strained his left hamstring yesterday, interrupting a brilliant comeback and raising the possibility of another long rehab.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL