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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 08/05/2011

Why Ryan Zimmerman is all the way back


Ryan Zimmerman is playing like himself again because he is working like himself again. Zimmerman returned from the disabled list June 14, well enough to go back on the field again after he missed two months with an abdominal tear that required surgery. He had healed enough to play, but scar tissue still crackled inside him, and soreness surfaced every two or three days.

Zimmerman could play, but, crucially, he could not do what has made one of baseball’s best players. The soreness in the middle of his abdomen forced him to forego his post-game workouts. He sensed a dearth of strength. He felt like he was in spring training, and the rest of the league had warped into June.

“It was frustrating, but at the same time I was just so happy to be back,” Zimmerman said. “I knew that I wasn’t performing the way I was capable, but at the same time it was better than sitting on the couch. It was frustrating, but it just takes time. You have to be patient.”

The patience, finally, has paid off. Zimmerman, after extending his hitting streak to 13 games by going 3 for 4 with a walk and two doubles in the Nationals’ 6-3 loss last night, is on a legitimate tear. In his last 25 games, Zimmerman has hit .369/.409/.505 over 110 plate appearances. During his hitting streak, Zimmerman is 25 for 56 (.446) with two walks and five doubles.

Zimmerman feels like it’s about May now, and, most important, he can perform his usual weight lifting after games. It may sound trivial, but it’s not.

“I feel a lot better,” Zimmerman said. “The biggest thing now is I’m able to work out and do the things away from the field that I wasn’t able to do the first two or three weeks. I would get too sore. Now I’m to the point where I’m pretty much back to a normal routine that enables me to prepare for the game like I normally do, which is a huge help.”

Zimmerman has been able to work out without thinking about his abdomen for about two weeks, he said. When he first came back, he felt pain every two or three days. Soreness and scar tissue still surface, but not more than once a week or so. “It’s a lot better now than it used to be,” Zimmerman said. “I can play and not worry about it.”

The difference during games has been obvious. With his recent rampage, Zimmerman has upped his numbers for the season to .295/.363/.433. His career numbers are .288/.354/.480. Subtract a few singles, add a handful of extra-base hits, and without the injury this would be another typical Ryan Zimmerman season.

“I felt like I was in spring training for a little while after I came back,” Zimmerman said. “It’s tough to get back into shape and get back into your game when you’re playing against guys who are in midseason form. I’m to the point now where I feel pretty good.”

FROM THE POST

The Nationals’ 6-3 loss to the Rockies kicked off a long road trip with a typical result away from Nationals Park.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Columbus 5, Syracuse 2: Stephen Lombardozzi went 2 for 4. Yunesky Maya allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings on eight hits and a walk, striking out four.

Reading 2, Harrisburg 1 (Game 1): Bryce Harper went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Erik Komatsu went 0 for 5. Chris Rahl went 3 for 4 with a double.

Harrisburg 2, Reading 1 (Game 2): Bryce Harper went 2 for 4 with a double and a run. Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Shairon Martins allowed no runs in six innings on one hit and three walks, striking out five.

Salem 4, Potomac 3: Sandy Leon went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double and a walk. Eury Perez went 2 for 4 with a double.

Hickory 8, Hagerstown 1: Michael Taylor went 1 for 3 with a double. Robbie Ray allowed four runs in four innings on seven hits and three walks, striking out two.

Auburn 6, Connecticut 5 (Game 1): Angelberth Montilla went 2 for 3 with a walk. Billy Burns went 2 for 4 with a triple.

Auburn 6, Connecticut 3 (Game 2): Caleb Ramsey went 2 for 3 with a triple and a walk. Travis Henke allowed no runs in two relief innings on two hits and no walks, striking out two.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 08/05/2011

 
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