Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman continued his rehab from an abdominal strain this afternoon by briefly playing catch at Nationals Park with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz. Zimmerman, who last played April 9, said he remains “just in the beginning stages” of his recovery and will stay on the 15-day disabled list for another week, perhaps longer.

Today, Zimmerman made about a dozen throws playing catch, which is “just the way it’s supposed to go,” Zimmerman said. Manager Jim Riggleman said “it’s going to be a little of a slow process” to get Zimmerman back into the lineup.

Zimmerman rehabbed at Nationals Park all of last week as the Nationals played a road trip in St. Louis and Pittsburgh and began baseball activities earlier this week. Zimmerman has yet to swing, even though he said swinging never hurt his strained abdominal, only throwing and lunging.

“It’s okay, getting better,” Zimmerman said. “It’s one of those things where, I’ve never had it, so I don’t know how long it will take. It kind of goes back and forth. Some people come back quicker, some people come back slower. It’s one of those where you have to wait and see.”

The Nationals are 7-8 without their best player, having scored 4.07 runs per game over the span, 20th in the majors. They are about to start one of the most difficult stretches of their schedule. Starting tomorrow, the Nationals will play 16 straight games against the Giants, Phillies, Braves and Marlins – the defending World Series champions, the four-time reigning National League East champions, one of the division favorites and the team with the third-best record in the NL.

Zimmerman could miss at least half, if not more, of that stretch. While adhering to trainers’ instructions, Zimmerman would prefer to cut short his time away as much as he can, including not going on a rehab assignment. As he says every spring training, Zimmerman feels as though he needs very little time to find his swing after a layoff.

“We’ll see when we get to that bridge,” Zimmerman said. “I’m sure they’ll want me to do some sort of rehab thing. But I think the goal is to kind of get back here as quick as I can. If I can get back and play here, I’ll take my chances learning how to hit again here and help these guys out.”