Before Monday’s afternoon game, Ryan Zimmerman walked out of the dugout and onto the outfield to play catch without a splint on his healing right thumb. Although Manager Matt Williams said earlier Monday that Zimmerman was due for an x-ray on his thumb at some point during the day and the doctors would have to clear him, Zimmerman’s throwing seemed to indicate good news.
Zimmerman threw the ball to assistant trainer Steve Gober, who flipped the ball to Bryce Harper, another injured Nationals player. Harper, who wore a brace on his left hand, still wore a glove but couldn’t catch, so he only threw back to Zimmerman. The throws from Zimmerman were on target and easy, without any apparent favoring of his thumb. Zimmerman has been recently using a specially fitted splint that allowed him to throw some in the final stages of healing.
If Zimmerman’s x-ray results are positive and doctors agree, he could be cleared to resume baseball activities, Williams said. Zimmerman could begin taking batting practice and fielding grounders, activities he hasn’t been able to perform with a fractured right thumb.
“The expectation is that it’ll be good,” Williams said of the x-ray results.
Zimmerman has been out since April 13 with a fractured thumb, an injury he sustained diving back to second base on a pickoff. It was been six weeks since the injury, and the Nationals had originally pegged the time frame as four to six weeks.
More to come after the game.
● Gio Gonzalez, who landed on the disabled list on May 18 with left shoulder inflammation, played catch again on Monday. He threw from about 90 feet on Sunday and “let some balls go” — meaning he threw harder — and was encouraged by how he felt, Williams said.
Gonzalez threw from a longer distance on Monday, playing catch with head trainer Lee Kuntz and with pitching coach Steve McCatty watching. Gonzalez seemed to fire the ball with ease and force.
Williams said, as of Sunday, that Gonzalez didn’t feel any discomfort. Gonzalez will continue throwing from a larger distance and testing out his shoulder. Whenever he feels ready and is stretched out enough, he could throw a bullpen session, the biggest step towards a return.
● Tyler Clippard is available on Monday, a day after Williams stayed away from the reliever in his usual eighth-inning spot because of arm tightness that was described as normal. Williams attributed the soreness to Clippard’s heavy workload early in the season — he has appeared in 25 of the Nationals’ 50 games — and the times he has warmed up in the bullpen without appearing.
Williams avoided using Clippard on Sunday to rest him, even though he said he could have pitched if needed. Clippard has thrown 254 1/3 innings since the beginning of 2011, the most among all relievers in baseball.