Nationals Notebook

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals Not Yet Agreeing on Long-Term Contract

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 6, 2009

MIAMI, April 5 -- With neither side expecting to reach a deal by today's 4:10 p.m. deadline, talks between the Washington Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman on a long-term contract will be put on hold until after the season.

Zimmerman, entering 2010, would again be eligible for arbitration, a scenario the fourth-year third baseman will embrace. Zimmerman said Sunday he would not be disappointed if the sides were unable to reach a long-term deal by Opening Day.

"It's come a long way, and we obviously have a great relationship," Zimmerman said. "But the point is, I'm here for three more years no matter what. If we go year by year, I'll go out and put up numbers and see what happens. The hard part is behind me. I'm in the system now, and the great thing is, once you get into arbitration there is really nobody to blame but yourself. You put up great numbers, you get paid accordingly. You put up bad numbers, you get paid accordingly. So, I'm a confident player and I feel like I can go out and put up good numbers. If I have to do it that way, I'll do it that way. But I mean, I love this place and I'd love to play here and be here for a long time."

Johnson Returns

First baseman Nick Johnson returned to the team on Sunday after spending the previous day with his five-month-old son, who cracked his skull after falling off a bed. Johnson called the situation "a scare," but said of Nick Jr., "he's doing all right today. You wouldn't even know something happened."

Johnson was in Washington on Saturday when he received a text message from his wife alerting him of the emergency. Johnson flew to Miami, where his family was already staying. His son had fallen in their hotel room and hit his head on a wooden part of the floor. . . .

Manager Manny Acta will have Johnson bat fifth, behind cleanup hitter Adam Dunn. That puts the two lefties back-to-back, with Austin Kearns, a righty, batting sixth. Why not flip-flop Johnson and Kearns? Because Acta wants to use his two most patient hitters in the middle. And Johnson, for his career, hits lefties (.286) better than righties (.263).

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