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The Washington Nationals

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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman discusses his trip to the Super Bowl, admits that he will miss the bouncing stands at RFK and expresses his distaste for Teddy Roosevelt's losing streak. Video by Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.comPhotos: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

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Ryan Zimmerman
Washington Nationals Third Baseman
Thursday, March 20, 2008; 1:30 PM

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was online Thursday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET to take your questions about the team, the new stadium, his expectations for this season and his charitable work.

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A transcript follows.

Zimmerman, 23, is entering his third season as a starter for the Nationals. In 2006, he hit .287 with 47 doubles, 20 home runs and 110 RBI in 2006, finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Last season he batted .266 with 43 doubles, 24 home runs and 91 RBI.

Zimmerman established the ziMS foundation in 2006, to support research and awareness of multiple sclerosis, a condition his mother Cheryl was diagnosed with in 1995.

Full Coverage: Washington Nationals

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New Carrollton, Md.: Ok, here is a deathly-urgent question that needs to be answered as soon as possible.

What's your walk-up music going to be?

I'm telling you, this is serious business. The fans need this info.

Ryan Zimmerman: Not to sure what the music is going to be yet. I like to wait until the last minute so I can have some new songs. But I will switch it up all the time throughout the year.

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Capitol Hill: Ryan, congratulations on your great start this year--hope that minor injury you got is healing well. Can you give us an update on the ziMS Foundation? I made a contribution in honor of a friend who has an aggressive form of MS. Thanks.

Ryan Zimmerman: The minor injury is nothing to worry about anymore. I am back to 100 percent and ready to play. Zims foundation is coming along well the first year we learned a lot about running a foundation but we plan to be doing a lot more events and fundraisers in the future.

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Reston, Va.: Ryan what's the one thing you hope to improve in your game this year?

You da man!!!

Ryan Zimmerman: I really want to take the next step defensively this year. I think I made some errors that were a little careless last year. I think you can improve on every aspect of your game that's what so great about baseball but the defense is my biggest priority.

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Sitting up high, behind third base: Hi Ryan, thanks for taking my question. It looks like the Nationals may need to field many different combinations of players at the other infield positions. How difficult is it for you, as the regular third baseman, to adjust to different players at first, second or short? Do you have to change your approach to ground-outs and double plays based on who's at the other bags?

Ryan Zimmerman: It doesn't really affect me at all. I just go out every day and play my position the best I can.

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Atlanta: What do you all talk about during mound conferences? I'm essentially asking how accurate "Bull Durham's" depiction is.

Ryan Zimmerman: We talk about everything you can think of. The game, people/girls in the stands, what were gonna do after the game. It's a nice break from concentrating every pitch.

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Foundation: Can you tell us if your foundation plans to do any work in the D.C. area and how to get involved? I've only heard of the golf tournament in Virginia Beach. Thanks

Ryan Zimmerman: The foundation is going to start doing some things in the DC area for example a bowling tournament and gala are in the works.

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Washington, DC: Hey Ryan! How do you like living in DC? What are your favorite things to do in the area? Any favorite restaurants or nightspots?

Ryan Zimmerman: I love living in DC! I live in the Clarendon area of Arlington which is a little younger and still developing unlike the city. I usually eat and head out at night in the Georgetown area.

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Waldorf, Md.: Ryan,

What's the sense of anticipation and excitement among the Nats regarding the new stadium?

Ryan Zimmerman: We are very excited and can't wait to move into our new home. I think it will allow us to take that next step which will allow us to become very competitive in this league.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: So, since you left for the Senators for the Nationals, have how things worked out for you? You know, anytime you want to come back and play for the Senators, we'd be glad to have you back. Seriously, what did you take from your time playing for the Senators that hopefully helped you?

Ryan Zimmerman: I learned a lot from my time with the Senators. The biggest thing I learned was to have a routine. Get to the park do some early work, grab a bite to eat, head out for BP then come in and get ready for the game. I had never done this before I started playing pro ball.

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Washington, D.C.: Two questions - Can you tell how the infield dynamic is going to be different this year than in the past? And, have any extra opening day tickets laying around?

Ryan Zimmerman: We are lucky to have plenty of talented players that can fill every position. So I would have to say that we are going to be better this year no matter who is playing where. Sorry, no extra tickets! Ha Ha I hear there aren't too many around.

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Silver Spring, MD: I'm curious to know how your wrist is feeling this spring. Do you feel like you're getting as much power/lift right off of the bat, or will it take a few months to get back to 100% there? Good luck for a great season!

Ryan Zimmerman: My wrist is fine! I am 100 percent and ready to go. I don't see my power declining at all this year because of the wrist injury during the offseason.

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Fairfax, Va.: Ryan,

When the team is on the road, are the younger guys more likely to test the nightlife while the older veterans just hit the hotel? Are there Major League cities where it is tough for any of you to find things worth doing before or after games?

Ryan Zimmerman: The chemistry on our team is great so we all do things together. We will go out sometimes or just hang out at the hotel, but when we do things we tend to do them together. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh are some cities that you really have to look and find some things to do.

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Centreville, Va.: Hi Ryan,

Another in probably a long line of contract questions. How confidant are you that you and the Lerners will come to agreement on a contract extension? Or are you prepared to just ride it out from year to year until you reach free agency? Take care and I look forward to seeing you have another great season in our brand new ballpark.

PS -- Can you post your foundation info so that we can contribute?

Ryan Zimmerman: I am happy being in DC so I would love to stay here my whole career. I am confident that we will get something done in the next 3 years. The foundation has a Web site that has all the information. zimsfoundation.org

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Nats Stadium: RZA-

First off, big ups from a fellow Hampton Roadsian-- whenever I get down there to see my folks and friends from the neighborhood, your name inevitably comes up. You do the Southside proud!

Now, more importantly, I know you've had a chance to see the new stadium: what do you think of the dimensions? How is it going to affect your ability (and the other sluggers on the team) to hit for extra bases? Is it that much smaller than RFK-- in other words, are we going to see you hitting 35 HRs this year?

Ryan Zimmerman: Well it can't be any worse than RFK so we got that going for us. It will be a fair park not a huge hitters park but it will be better to hit than RFK.

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Washington, D.C.: My best moment as a fan was your home run to beat the Yankees. I'm wondering whether that moment is your biggest baseball thrill.

Ryan Zimmerman: I think it is. I have had a few other walk off hits but that was the first one I ever had and it was on Father's Day with my Dad in the crowd.

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Section 307: How's the hand? What differences have you noticed and what adjustments have you had to make? Thanks and good luck this year!

Ryan Zimmerman: Hand is good as new. This game is all about adjustments and you learn that in your first 2 years. With what I have learned in my first 2 seasons I feel a lot more comfortable and ready to go this year.

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Washington, D.C.: Who is the hardest thrower you have faced in the majors?

Ryan Zimmerman: The Jimenez pitcher on Colorado will hit 100 mph a couple times a game.

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Taneytown, Md.: Who do you have in your NCAA bracket? Any surprises?

Ryan Zimmerman: This year is tough there are a lot of teams that I think could win it. You are pretty safe with the 1 seeds, but if you want to go out on a limb I say ride Pittsburgh. Good point guard and a couple big men.

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Reston, Va.: Ryan,

Huge fan - even though I am a VT grad. I was wondering what you are looking forward to the most at the new stadium. My guess is the locker room, or maybe the friendlier dimensions for power hitters?

Ryan Zimmerman: You are right on both of your assumptions. Our locker room is going to be unbelievable and everything is going to be brand new.

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Arlington, Va.: What is the biggest challenge for you in being the player that is generally thought of as the face of the franchise?

Ryan Zimmerman: I really don't ever think of it that way. There are plenty of guys that are leaders on this team. I realize that I'm lucky enough to be a younger player in the league and accept the responsibilities that go along with that and playing close to where I grew up. I really enjoy it too I wouldn't want it any other way.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the nature of the small talk between you and the opposition's third base coach when you are warming up before the start of an inning?

Ryan Zimmerman: You get to know a lot of them because we play the teams in our division so much. We ask where to go to dinner or something fun to do in the city. Just things that you would ask your friends.

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Washington, D.C.: I took you in my fantasy league, so if you could bump up your stolen base total that would be great.

Ryan Zimmerman: I'm not sure if my speed got a lot better in the offseason but I will try.

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Blacksburg, Va.: You've been playing with top notch talent all of your life. You played with Upton and Wright in high school. You played against guys like Tulowitzki and Olsen in college. Is that why you were able to jump to the majors so quickly? How did it feel to get to the majors so fast?

Ryan Zimmerman: I think being able to get to the highest level so quickly starts with coaching at a young age. Baseball is all about doing the little things right and you have to have someone teach you those things at a young age.

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Washington, D.C.:

Aside from yourself, which Nats player has the best chance to make the 2008 All-Star team?

Also, who do you think will most surprise the fans this year?

Ryan Zimmerman: I think anybody on our team has a chance to make the all star team. We have a lot of talent this year and it's going to be very exciting to watch us this year. I think Lastings Milledge will really surprise you guys this year. He is a five tool talent.

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Lawrence, Kan.: Ryan - Did all that talk last year about being a historically bad team give you guys any extra motivation to prove the pundits wrong?

Ryan Zimmerman: Not really, we want to win every game no matter if we are supposed to or not.

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Section 131 Row J Seat 1: Ryan - This may be a touchy subject but could you talk a bit about the differences (positive and/or negative) between Manny Acta and Frank Robinson as managers?

Ryan Zimmerman: Manny and Frank represent the 2 different sides of baseball, the old school and new school. Frank has forgotten more about baseball than most of us know but it was harder for him to relate to the younger players. Where as Manny is a lot more new school and is not that far removed from the game so he can relate more to how the game is played now.

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Washington, D.C.: Are you single?

Ryan Zimmerman: Yes!

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Washington, DC: Do you feel like you are still a little under the radar nationally? I think you are, but not for long. I hope you can make an impression on ESPN in 10 days.

Ryan Zimmerman: I guess you could say that but to gain recognition we need to win and that is everyone's goal on this team. You can be a great individual player but the best know how to make their teams win.

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Fairfax, Va. : Hey Ryan,

Just curious as to if you read or pay attention to any of the Nats blogs out there? There are quite a few that are pretty popular with the fans.

Ryan Zimmerman: I don't really pay attention to any media to tell you the truth. I think the idea of the blog is cool because it allows the normal fan to voice his opinion but I really don't pay too much attention to any of that.

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Washington, D.C.: Ryan,

What do you think are the chances of Teddy winning in the President's race at the new stadium?

Ryan Zimmerman: I am tired of rooting for Teddy. He has had many races won and somehow screws it up. I used to feel bad but now he just frustrates me!!!!!

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Arlington, VA: I met you at an appearance before the 2006 season in Arlington. You were with Tony Beasley, Brian Schneider and Jose Guillen that day. You are the only one still on the roster/staff. Has the adjustment to the business side of baseball with the regular change of teammates and relationships been as challenging as learning the game at the Major League level? BTW, it is a real pleasure to watch you play the game, thanks.

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah the business side of the game is something that you have to learn as well. It has been an eye opening experience for me especially because I am so young. But you are still friends with those guys just not on the field anymore.

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Alexandria, Va.: Who are some of the pitchers you hate to face? You did well against Santana last year. Any concerns about facing him so often now that he's in the division?

Ryan Zimmerman: I'm not a big fan of John Smoltz or Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels isn't that fun either. Even if you do well against someone like Santana it is never fun to face him!

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Arlington, Va.: I have to agree - that home run to beat the Yanks was my favorite memory too! The stadium rocked that day.

My husband and I got 20-game season tix this year, so we'll be waving at you from Section 416!

Who will be the Nats' biggest rivals in the division this year?

Ryan Zimmerman: Everyone in our division is our biggest rival. I say this because in order for us to be where we want to be, which is the playoffs, we must beat all these teams.

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Washington, DC: Are you surprised that you are a major league baseball player? I just wonder, when you might have known this was what you really wanted to do....in my opinion it's the hardest professional sport (at least that I follow) because of the nature of the schedule and the daily/constant grind.

Ryan Zimmerman: Yeah I never expected to become a major league player. I have always loved baseball and wanted to be a big leaguer but didn't know I would be so lucky and make it so young.

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Washington: With all the changes on the roster for this season, anyone you going to miss a lot (personality-wise perhaps) from last season?

Ryan Zimmerman: I think the biggest personality that will be missed around the clubhouse is Robert Fick. He was always doing something crazy and you need someone like that when you play every single day for 6 months.

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Stafford, N.Y.: Ryan, is that really you on Facebook? You are really putting yourself out there.

Ryan Zimmerman: No that's not me. I had one in college but I don't anymore I guess someone made one for me.

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Stafford, N.Y.: What is the significance of the No. 11? Thanks for all you do.

Ryan Zimmerman: I was always no. 1 growing up, not sure why but I just liked it. When I went to college someone already had no. 1 so 11 was the closest and it has stuck since then.

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Chicago: Thanks for taking my question Ryan. What are your favorite cities to visit when the team is on the road?

Ryan Zimmerman: I enjoy some of the bigger cities. My favorites are LA, Chicago, New York and San Diego.

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2005: What was it like for you when you came up in '05? Did you see it coming? I have to say, your arrival and performance was my favorite part of the closing to the season.

Ryan Zimmerman: It was a very exciting time for me when I got called up. That whole year was crazy getting drafted, playing a couple months in the minors and then ultimately getting called up. It was the most exciting 4 months of my life to date.

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Friendship Heights: Hiya Ryan,

Really cool to be actually typing to you!

Do you have a favorite pair of socks, or other "good luck" thing you always wear in a game?

Thanks!

Ryan Zimmerman: I don't really do too much as far as superstitions. Baseball is too much of an up and down game.

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Silver Spring, Md.: You talked about the responsibility that comes with playing for the team close to your home. With the new park, do you guys get the sense that you're really just now restarting a great new tradition of baseball in a town that used to have that when Walter Johnson, Josh Gibson and Frank Howard played here? Are you a student of baseball history in that way? (Maybe the fourth statue in the ballpark will be yours one day).

Ryan Zimmerman: This will be the last question. Thanks for all of the interesting questions!

I definitely think that the organization is heading in the right direction. We are ready, with our new stadium, to build a team that can be great for the next 10 or 20 years!

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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