Ryan Zimmerman has an ‘arthritic’ shoulder, tries something new

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) pauses in the dugout during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Matt Williams said Sunday afternoon an MRI on Ryan Zimmerman’s revealed inflammation, but no structural damage. Monday night, at a Q&A event hosted by 106.7 The Fan, Williams revealed another layer to the third baseman’s status that had not previously been made public, saying Zimmerman has an “arthritic shoulder.”

Zimmerman’s ongoing struggle with shoulder inflammation dates back at least two and a half years. In 2011, after he underwent surgery to repair an abdominal muscle, Zimmerman changed his throwing mechanics to lessen the burden on his midsection. Early in the 2012 season, he experienced stiffness and soreness in his shoulder. In November 2012, Zimmerman underwent surgery to repair inflammation in his shoulder’s AC joint and fraying in both his labrum and rotator cuff.

How exactly the new “arthritic” distinction will affect how Zimmerman and the Nationals move forward remains unclear. Tuesday afternoon, Zimmerman was throwing and practicing what may be a new strategy to deal with his ailing shoulder.

Before 3 p.m., Zimmerman stood at third base and fielded groundballs hit by defensive coach Mark Weidemaier. Williams stood at home with bench coach Randy Knorr. Rehab coordinator Steve Gober leaned on the batting cage.

Zimmerman vacuumed the grounders, which Weidemaier hit either right at him or to his backhand, the kind of play that has forced him to make painful throws with his inflamed shoulder. Tuesday afternoon, though, Zimmerman tried a different approach. He gave himself a brief running start and rifled the ball across the diamond with a sidearm motion.

Afterward, Zimmerman conferred with the coaches and Gober. Williams, a four-time Gold Glove third baseman as a player, pantomimed a throwing motion.

Zimmerman is not in the Nationals’ starting lineup tonight. Anthony Rendon is playing third base, and Danny Espinosa replaced Rendon at second. We’ll have more on Zimmerman later this evening.

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