Zimmerman Starts Light Exercises With Shoulder

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On the day he resumed light exercises to test his injured left shoulder, Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman expressed hope that his recovery won't require surgery. Now, or after the season.

"I wouldn't say we're out of the clear yet," Zimmerman, on the disabled list for a week, said after a workout with trainer Lee Kuntz. "I haven't even picked up a bat. But I'm optimistic after what I felt today. And we'll see what happens."

Exhausting summer-long focus on his shoulder, not his regular third base position, is something new for Zimmerman. "It's killing him," Manager Manny Acta said. And to exacerbate matters, his recovery has been tedious.

Three weeks ago, he injured the shoulder -- a small labral tear, an MRI exam later revealed -- while diving headfirst into second base.

He tried for the first week to play.

He tried for the second week to rest, sans disabled list trip.

He resorted this week to a program of pure rest, until yesterday. Today, Zimmerman will receive prescriptions for an exercise program designed to help his shoulder.

Zimmerman still doesn't know when he'll return to the lineup, but a checkup yesterday by team orthopedist Ben Shaffer provided some encouragement. Shaffer saw no setbacks; after yesterday's game, Acta said that Zimmerman is feeling "a lot better." Surgery has not yet been ruled out, but in the meantime, Zimmerman is leaning on what he's learned from others who've had similar injuries, including Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, who spoke with Zimmerman while the Nationals were in Phoenix.

"I mean a lot of people have it and play with it anyway," said Zimmerman, batting .257 with eight home runs before the injury. "As long as it's not your throwing shoulder, and as long as your labrum is not torn, there's really no need to fix it. If you can rehab it, get it strong. A lot of guys usually will play with it and at the end of the season they'll rehab it and rest it and get it right. I mean, there's a lot of guys who have it in their nonthrowing shoulder that play for years afterwards."

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