Ryan Zimmerman getting a splint for thumb to throw, can’t hit yet

Ryan Zimmerman shagging fly balls in the outfield on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ryan Zimmerman shagging fly balls in the outfield on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ryan Zimmerman‘s weekly X-ray on his fractured right thumb showed good progress in its healing, enough that he was scheduled to be fitted with a special splint so that he could begin throwing, according to Nationals Manager Matt Williams. But Zimmerman isn’t completely cleared to return to action and still can’t hit.

Zimmerman was slated to visit with an occupational therapist on Tuesday and be fitted for a new splint. Zimmerman has been shagging flyballs and tossing them lightly into the infield, but could only grab the ball with a few fingers. Now he will be able to start building some arm strength and get his rested right shoulder back into action.

The thumb “was better,” Williams said. “It’s not fully healed but they’re cautious. They’re allowing him to do that and allowing him to get his arm in shape a little bit.”

Zimmerman will undergo another X-ray in a week. Doctors are being cautious with Zimmerman’s thumb because the vibration and force of the bat from any premature hitting could result in another fracture.

At first, the Nationals said that Zimmerman would be out four to six weeks. But since, officials have said that it would take that long for Zimmerman’s thumb to simply heal. Zimmerman broke his thumb on April 12 in Atlanta, and he has been out since. By this coming Saturday, it would be six weeks. Williams considered Tuesday’s development as something in between typical and a best-case scenario.

“And given the nature of the fracture, it’s probably more typical,” he said.

Williams wouldn’t say that Zimmerman’s thumb is healing slower than expected. “Everybody heals different,” he said. He said the fracture wasn’t a simple straight crack but multiple cracks in the shape of a Y.

“So there’s multiple things that have to heal,” Williams said. “Of course we’d like it to go faster but it is what it is. I don’t know how far away he would be to having that splint off, but at least he’s taking the next step and that’s the ability to start the throwing motion in any way light.”

** Williams said that Adam LaRoche felt good Tuesday, a day after taking grounders. LaRoche was expected to do more of the same on Tuesday and hit in the indoor batting cages as he works his way back from a right quad injury. If all goes well, LaRoche could soon take full on-field batting practice and run the bases.

LaRoche has been pleased with the progress of his quad. He said he may need to play in minor league rehab games, perhaps Friday and Saturday, to test his mobility, not necessarily to regain his timing because he has been able to continue hitting while on the disabled list.

LaRoche would rather test his leg in a rehab game than have it flare up while back from the disabled list, and he intends to return on Sunday when he is first eligible.

“Everything there looks really good,” Williams said. “Looks like he’s feeling good about it.”

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