Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he will come off the disabled list Friday night in Pittsburgh after his left hamstring felt strong during a rehab assignment at Class A Potomac, giving the Nationals’ scuffling offense a boost.
Zimmerman, who wore No. 33 in deference to Potomac’s No. 11, shortstop Jason Martinson, played six innings, went 0 for 3 and reached on error, running hard and without issue after two groundouts. In the field, Zimmerman fielded every ball within his reach and made two strong throws, even though he did not receive any chances on routine groundballs.
“Everything went great,” Zimmerman said. “Everything felt fine.”
Zimmerman will work out Thursday at Nationals Park, then fly to Pittsburgh and join the Nationals for a weekend series against the Pirates. Zimmerman appeared in only one minor league game. On Tuesday, he prepared to play before inclement weather pushed back the start time twice. Zimmerman did not want to test his hamstring after an intermittent warm-up.
“It only took seven or eight days for it to feel completely better,” Zimmerman said. “But then I had to get back in shape and then get ready. Thankfully, everything went as planned and nothing really came back up. With hamstrings, you never really know.”
In his first at-bat, after a standing ovation, Zimmerman grounded out to shortstop and sprinted through first base without any sign of strain. In his second plate appearance, he flied out to deep right-center field.
In the second inning, Zimmerman received his first chance at third base. Playing on the grass with a man on first, he fielded a one-hopper and hurled a submarine throw to second base to nab the lead runner. The throw sailed slightly high and toward left field, but second baseman Cutter Dykstra caught it easily before relaying to first, not in time for the double play.
In the fifth, Zimmerman charged and caught a bunt in the air. Still on the run, he skipped and hummed a quick, sidearm throw to first base, right on the money.
Zimmerman appeared uncomfortable throwing across the diamond as he warmed up before innings, skipping a few balls and forcing the first baseman to leap to catch a few others. During game action, though, Zimmerman threw with authority.
Before Zimmerman went on the disabled list, he had made four throwing errors in five games, raising concerns about his mechanics and the state of his shoulder following offseason surgery. During one game, in Miami, Zimmerman asked teammates if they had noticed anything amiss with his motion.
As the hamstring strain sidelined him for two weeks, Zimmerman could still work on his throwing. He said he believed the time off was neither helpful nor harmful for his throwing.
“Nobody wants to make errors,” Zimmerman said. “I’d rather be out there and playing, no matter what, whether I feel great or I don’t feel great. No one ever wants to miss time. Unfortunately, I made some errors. But my arm feels great now. Everything feels good. Keep going out there, and keep trying to make plays.”
About three hours prior to the game, Zimmerman took infield practice with the rest of the P-Nats. His throws zipped across the diamond, all of them hitting the target. Zimmerman also took batting practice, hammering balls into the trees beyond the billboard-covered fence.
Zimmerman will return to a team that currently sits at 14-14 following a 2-0 win tonight over the Braves. The Nationals have started slow, but Zimmerman felt no urgency about their standing after he watched the final innings tonight on a television at Pfitzner Stadium.
“It’s early,” Zimmerman said. “It’s May 1. Everyone is a lot more worried than we are. Do we want to go 15-5 or 20-10 every month? Of course. But it’s not going to happen. We’ve got a long ways to go. Over 162 games, I like our chances.”