By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Ryan Zimmerman was the Washington Nationals' lone all-star, and he has shown why this season with a host of highlight-reel plays in the field. But he has also been prone to throwing errors, which is why he has recently focused on sharpening his work defensively.
Zimmerman is perhaps the Nationals' best fielder with his range at third base -- often snaring drives at the foul line or charging in for balls near the mound -- but frequently making plays on the move might have affected his delivery on more routine, third-to-first throws.
"You can get yourself in a position where you're throwing a lot of balls on the run because that's the only thing you can do by the time you get to them, and he's outstanding at that," Jim Riggleman, the interim manager, said before last night's game against the Chicago Cubs. "But somewhere in there, he lost his arm slot on the basic play. The ball's not coming out of his hand as good as he knows it can and we know it can."
Zimmerman has committed 13 errors this season, many of which have resembled his airmailed throw Thursday that allowed the Cubs to score in the third inning. In an effort to return to a more natural throwing motion when fielding the ball, Zimmerman, along with the other infielders, practiced taking ground balls before last night's game.
"He's got a real good arm," Riggleman said. "And we just want to display that a little more often, with a little more consistency, instead of being concerned about the arm slot and taking something off the ball and throwing it over there."Olsen Out Again
Pitcher Scott Olsen, scratched as the starter for last night's game because of tightness in the left side of his back, was briefly scheduled to make his next start Monday against the New York Mets, but will not.
A doctor's exam yesterday did not reveal anything, so Olsen will be re-evaluated. Riggleman said he was still unsure if Olsen would need to go on the disabled list.
Also scratched from the lineup was shortstop Cristian Guzmán, who complained of tenderness in his feet.
Guzmán was said to have struggled with sore feet in past seasons. He is considered day-to-day.