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'Ultra-Conservative' Move Puts Zimmermann on DL

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jordan Zimmermann planned on taking the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday evening. Instead, he'll be spending his first full day on the disabled list -- "definitely not a place I want to be," he said -- after the team on Wednesday night shelved the rookie, who was complaining of right elbow soreness.

Zimmermann, placed on the disabled list following Washington's 3-1 win against the Mets, will be "shut down here for a couple weeks," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. To replace Zimmermann (3-5, 4.63 ERA) in the rotation, the Nationals recalled Collin Balester from Class AAA Syracuse. Balester, who started 15 games for Washington last season, had a 7-9 record with a 4.35 ERA in 19 starts with the Chiefs this season.

Balester will start Thursday against the Cardinals.

"I'm not really concerned at all," said Zimmermann, who first felt the elbow soreness after his bullpen session on Tuesday. "Just gonna give it a little rest here, I'll come back, have one rehab start and be ready to go. They're going to take a lot of caution. It is what it is. I could go out there tomorrow and pitch, but there's no sense in me maybe hurting it more than what it already is."

Riggleman called the decision with Zimmermann "ultra-conservative." The right-hander, 23, has thrown 91 1/3 major league innings this year and was operating -- even before the injury -- on a 150- or 160-inning limit for the season.

"We just felt, Why let him pitch with any discomfort when we're going to limit him anyway?" Riggleman said. "Let's let him get back to 100 percent and let him attain those 150 innings in August or September."

Guzmán Hits Second

Most players, Riggleman said, "don't really care where they hit. They really don't." But at least one player on Riggleman's roster, Cristian Guzmán, cares quite a bit. Dropped to sixth in the lineup after the team acquired natural leadoff man Nyjer Morgan, Guzmán has since dropped into a slump.

Whether that slump is a byproduct of the lineup shift or a mere coincidence, Riggleman isn't sure. But the evidence of a link is strong enough that Washington is moving Guzmán back to the No. 2 spot.

"Somehow or another it can get in your head, where you're hitting in the lineup," Riggleman said. "Whether it did or not [with Guzmán], I don't know, but we're going to try to get him going again."

Before going 0 for 4 on Wednesday night, Guzmán was hitting .355 (22 for 62) in the No. 2 spot this year. He was batting .143 (4 for 28) as a No. 6 hitter.

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