Toward the end of batting practice before Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Miami Marlins in Viera, Ryan Zimmerman grabbed his first baseman’s glove and fielded throws at the base. Last week, Zimmerman did his first work of camp at the position in anticipation of playing there some this spring and eventually during the season. Since then, Zimmerman has been taking groundballs, working on his footwork around the base and picking balls.
“As we get going, we’ll get into some team fundamental stuff where he’ll go over there so he understands plays from the other side of the diamond,” Manager Matt Williams said. “It’s not easy to switch, because there’s different responsibilities. But that’s part of the progression. We’ll go through all that stuff and the get him some innings over there and make sure he’s comfortable.”
As part of the possible infield configuration with Zimmerman at first, Anthony Rendon will also see time at third base this spring. Rendon is a natural third baseman who learned second base on the fly last season. Rendon will primarily play at second base this spring, and is competing with Danny Espinosa for the position. But on the few times that Zimmerman moves across the diamond, Rendon will move back to his old position. And, if Espinosa makes the team, he would play at second in that arrangement.
Espinosa has been fielding grounders at shortstop and second base this spring. He started at shortstop on Saturday and flashed his rocket arm. Rendon is starting at third base on Sunday while Zimmerman will serve as the designated hitter.
Rendon is “going to have to play there some during the season,” Williams said. “If we get a chance to match up or any of that stuff. So we need to get him over there. He’s accustomed to doing it, so that’s the only reason. Get him ABs, make sure he’s getting ABs. And there may be times where it’s match-up-friendly for us to put Zim at first, so we’ll get Zim some work at first as well.”
>>> Tyler Clippard, because of a tight back, and Drew Storen, because of a death in the family, have yet to make their spring debuts and both should do so by midweek. Storen is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista. Clippard said he isn’t sure when he will pitch, but likely by midweek.
>>> Brock Peterson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound first baseman, is 2 for 2 with a double this spring. He hit 25 home runs at St. Louis’ Class AAA affiliate last season and is in Nationals big league camp on a minor league deal. “Rick Schu referred to him the other day as ‘a big, hairy guy,’” Williams said. “Sometimes you need a big, hairy guy at the plate. So he’s that guy. He’s got power. And for a larger man, he moves really well around the bag. I’ve been impressed with that.”