While continuing to rehab his broken thumb, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman spent time shagging fly balls and doing other outfield drills during batting practice on Washington’s most recent homestand.
It’s for conditioning, Nationals coaches initially said, as the rest of us wondered whether Zimmerman was being groomed for a position switch.
“He’s starting to like it out there,” a Nationals official conceded to Adam Kilgore on Wednesday. “The more we see him out there, the more we think it could be likely.”
And what does Washington’s manager think?
“Well, it makes for good water cooler conversation during the day,” Matt Williams told 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday. “But the reality of the situation is Zim can only do certain things. So, one, we have to get him to run, to move around, and to make sure that his legs are in shape, first and foremost. I don’t want him on the infield, because if there’s a bad hop and he’s got both hands down there and he gets hit in the thumb and breaks it again, that would be foolish. What he can do in the outfield is run and catch fly balls, and work on coming to get balls and stuff with one hand.”
He could also play football with Bryce Harper. Williams wouldn’t rule out Zimmerman playing some outfield when he returns.
“There’s a possibility that he could play out there,” Williams said, echoing what he told reporters earlier in the week. “The fact that he moves around and is a great athlete and he can do anything on the baseball field allows us to think about that if, in fact, we get in a late-inning situation and he’s got to move out there.”
The Junkies also asked whether Zimmerman might start games in the outfield if he returns before Harper.
“I would consider it,” Williams said. “I can’t imagine it would happen, but I would consider it, sure. He can play anywhere he wanted to. There are no plans for me to play him in center field, that’s for sure.”
Here’s the only extended clip we’ve seen of Zimmerman working on his, uh, conditioning.
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) May 22, 2014