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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Zimmerman's Shoulder Pain Might Linger

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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 31, 2008

PHOENIX, May 30 -- For the first time Friday, Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman indicated that he might have to withstand lingering shoulder pain for the rest of the season.

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Out of the Nationals' lineup since Sunday because of an injured left shoulder, Zimmerman took a few light swings several hours before his teammates played the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Saturday, he'll resume regular batting practice. Still, he's almost certain to sit out for the remainder of this trip, which concludes Sunday.

Zimmerman expressed no outright concern about his injury, delivering the regular assurances that have become daily ritual since he vacated the Washington lineup. The shoulder is feeling better each day, he said. He can't foresee a trip to the disabled list.

He added, though, that he sometimes feels a "sharp pain" when he swings.

"I wouldn't say it's all the way back," he said. "I don't know if it will be back all the way until the season is over and I have a chance to rest it for more than a week. But, you know, that's me: I want to play, and if I have to play through a little pain I don't see a problem with that. It's just a matter of making sure I can't hurt anything else further."

Peña's Struggles

Left fielder Wily Mo Peña had three at-bats and saw 12 pitches on Thursday afternoon. He let two pass for balls. He fouled off three. He looked at two strikes. He swung and missed five times. The net productivity of that work -- 0 for 3, three strikeouts -- meant that Peña had Friday off.

For the season, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound Peña, has one home run and five extra-base hits. With just two hits in his last 18 at-bats, his average has plummeted to .207 -- a bottom line that perplexes hitting coach Lenny Harris, who on Friday called Peña's batting practice swing "mechanically perfect."

"You have to make solid contact and then the power will come," Manager Manny Acta said. "Right now he's not making solid contact consistently."

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