Ryan Zimmerman clears the air on Adam Dunn, talks Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 3:11 PM
Ryan Zimmerman, one of several Nationals position players who arrived early to Viera, chatted with reporters today for the first time this spring. Right away, he attempted to clarify his stance on the Nationals' allowing Adam Dunn, who signed with the White Sox, to leave in free agency. Zimmerman feels many people took his comments about Dunn's departure as a swipe at the Nationals. He said today that was not the case, that he was merely expressing frustration at a close friend going elsewhere, nothing more. "I never said I wasn't happy with the team," Zimmerman said. "You have friends and teammates that you like to play with. It happens everywhere. I was not by any means saying anything about the club or the organization. I think a lot people thought I was. "I had talked to Mike [Rizzo] quite a bit. I knew that they had a plan. Obviously, they've done it for the past couple years to get this team in place. I was just expressing more frustration of losing a teammate and a friend than anything. I think a lot of people took it as I was taking a stab at them or talking bad about them, which was completely the opposite." With that out of the way, Zimmerman could focus on the 2011 Nationals and this spring. When asked about the addition Jayson Werth, Zimmerman used him as an example of how he thinks the Nats have changed. He feels the Nationals, having added Werth and several other veteran pieces, should be more mature and experienced this season than last. "We have a more veteran team this year," Zimmerman said. "It's going to be a lot more fun, a lot less - not headaches, but, you know, you don't have to worry about anyone but yourself getting ready to play." For the second straight spring, Zimmerman will get to know the reigning first overall draft pick. Last summer, Zimmerman ducked into a press conference at Nationals Park long enough to slip a jersey over Bryce Harper's shoulder. This spring, at least for part of major league camp, he'll play alongside him. Having watched Stephen Strasburg handle the attention that came with the first overall designation, Zimmerman has a good understanding of what's to come. Though he still hasn't met Harper beyond those few moments the day of Harper's introduction, he thinks Harper will be able to handle the spotlight. "I don't even know what you want to call it -- kind of a Strasburgesque kind of thing," Zimmerman said. "Probably not quite as much. I hope he hits .300 wherever he's at and they call him up and he helps us win. It will be fun to watch him and see how he handles it. "I don't think he'll handle it the wrong way. We expect everyone on our team to handle things the right way and not draw too much attention to themselves, I guess you could say. He's a young kid, and he has everything he could want right not. You got to remember when you were young. I think he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. I don't think we'll have to worry about him too much."