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Off the Bench, Zimmerman Sees Action

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

For now, Nationals rookie Ryan Zimmerman, the team's highly touted first-round draft pick, is watching much of the playoff chase from a seat in Washington's dugout. Called up Thursday from Class AA Harrisburg, he has yet to start a game.

"I would trade playing five or six more games down there for the experience of coming up here any day," Zimmerman said prior to yesterday's 5-2 win over Florida. "You can't come up here at 20 and expect to play every day."

General Manager Jim Bowden, though, had Zimmerman move to shortstop at Harrisburg for a week with the idea of getting him ready to play the position for the Nationals. Zimmerman called the experience "like going home," because he had played the position growing up and in high school.

Manager Frank Robinson, however, doesn't think it would be proper to insert Zimmerman at shortstop.

"Would it be fair to put him out there ahead of these other guys who have played those positions for quite some time?" Robinson asked.

Organizational reports show that the Nationals' scouts believe Zimmerman excelled at shortstop in the minors. But with some veterans already chafing under Robinson's new clubhouse rules -- banning music and card games -- the manager said he must be cognizant of the mood of his players.

"Of course it matters," Robinson said. "I'm going to put a kid at a position he hasn't played when I have other people, other options? I wouldn't do it to him, number one."

Yesterday, Robinson used a pinch runner for third baseman Vinny Castilla in the sixth, and Zimmerman finished the game at third, starting a nifty double play and hitting a single in his only at-bat, starting an eighth-inning rally.

"He looks very comfortable at the plate," Robinson said. "It doesn't look like he's overmatched."

New Pitcher Called Up for Tonight

The Nationals called up right-hander Darrell Rasner from Harrisburg and will throw him directly into the pennant race tonight against the Marlins. Rasner, 24, went 6-7 with a 3.93 ERA in the minors. He'll start because Tony Armas Jr. has been removed from the rotation with shoulder problems.

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