Over the winter, at the request of Manager Matt Williams, Ryan Zimmerman arranged for a first baseman’s glove to meet him at Viera. He knew, as part of a potential small platoon at the base during the season, would get some work across the diamond during spring training. Finally, early Tuesday morning before scheduled team workouts, Zimmerman stood at first base, along with Tyler Moore and Adam LaRoche, and took part in a drill run by Williams. The manager threw them balls in the dirt to simulate scooping bouncing throws. It was the first time this spring that Zimmerman did work at the position.
“It felt good,” Zimmerman said, in his typically mellow manner. Added Williams: ”He’s really good. He’s got great hands, man. He’s really good at it. He’s one of those unique guys that has great hands.”
Zimmerman, who has played 1,110 of his 1,111 major league games in field at third base, brushed off the notion that it might be difficult for a career third baseman to play across the diamond.
“Just catch a ball,” he said. “It’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives. We’ve just gotta work on the footwork and get comfortable over there. Once you’re done with that, it’s second nature.”
“We worked with his footwork around the bag,” Williams added. “That’s an important thing for a guy that may get a chance to move across the diamond for a couple games in spring or whatever it is or a few innings or whatever it is. Wanna make sure his footwork is good so his foot is in the right place and doesn’t get stepped on.”
Eventually, Zimmerman will graduate to fielding grounders at first base. The cornerstone player has known since December that he would likely receive playing time at first, and he is prepared to make 10 or 15 starts there this year. Williams is preparing Zimmerman for the possibility that he may spend some innings at a new position this spring.
“(Zimmerman) looked good,” Moore said. “He’s just an athlete. You can put him in left field or right field, wherever, behind the plate and make some plays. He was scooping them up. He looked good. It looked like he’d been over there for a while.”
Zimmerman will continue to come to Space Coast Stadium early to do his regular third baseman’s work, but still squeeze in some drills at first.
“It’s a progression,” Williams said. “But he’s certainly willing to do it. He’s excited to do it. If we get a chance to put him over there for a few innings this spring, we’ll do that.”