Jordan Zimmermann on being an all-star, stiff neck

(John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

(John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Even if his stiff neck prevented him from pitching in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, Jordan Zimmermann planned to fly to New York, have his family join him and take in the events. He hoped to attend Monday night’s Home Run Derby to watch teammate Bryce Harper. But would he be sitting in the dugout during Tuesday’s game, even if he wasn’t available to pitch?

“I hope so,” Zimmermann said. “I don’t know. There’s a jersey hanging in my locker, so I should be on the bench someplace.”

Zimmermann’s standout season — 12-4 and a 2.58 ERA — was rewarded with his first-ever all-star selection from a talented and crowded Nationals rotation. But since the beginning of the 2012 season, only Clayton Kershaw (2.32 ERA) has a earned run average than Zimmermann’s 2.80 ERA.

“It means a lot,” he said, sitting at his table during reporters availability with the NL all-stars. “I’ve always wanted to have a chance to come up here but when you’ve got [Stephen] Strasburg and Gio [Gonzalez] in front of you sometimes you get overlooked. Not saying those guys are not having a good year. Those guys are having a great year. I’m just getting great run support and a lot more wins this year. I’m happy to be here.”

Zimmermann said his neck remains sore, especially in the mornings when he wakes up, but it felt slightly better on Monday. He has passed all the medical tests he has been given. It’s unclear what the injury is exactly, but he noted it is a “little bulge in the disc.”

“It’s minor,” he said. “They said it’s pretty minor. Nothing that needs surgery or anything.”

He hopes the rest and continued heat treatment on his neck will help ease the discomfort. It doesn’t affect him when he’s pitching, just a nuisance when he turns his neck to look at first base.

“It seems like it’s getting a little better but I think it’s going to take longer than this all-star break to get better,” he said. “I’ll probably just have to pitch through it this second half and during the offseason hopefully it gets better.”

Zimmermann is expected to make his first start after the all-star break on Sunday, which he intends to still make despite the stiffness.

“It’s fun to be here,” he said. “I wish I could pitch. The best option right now is to take it easy for a few days and let this thing calm down.”

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