Evan Vucci/AP

Ryan Zimmerman returned to the Nationals lineup tonight, finished with the frustration of watching his team play without him. “It’s tough,” Zimmerman said. “Over the last three or four years, unfortunately, I’ve learned how to deal with that stuff a little better than I used to.”

Zimmerman hopes to avoid another stint on the disabled list, a place he has been infuriatingly familiar with in recent seasons. Zimmerman has missed time on the DL the past three seasons, and in 2010 an injury sidelined him for the final 10 games. Zimmerman also missed two months in 2008 because of a shoulder injury.

If Zimmerman plays every game for the remainder of this season, he will end the year having played 140 games per season since his 2006 rookie year. Meanwhile, at only age 28, he has spent 133 games on the disabled list.

“It’s part of the game,” Zimmerman said. “You’re not going to play this sport or any sport for a long period of time and not have to miss any games. It happens. You learn from it and move on. It does no good to get mad or get frustrated when you can’t do anything about it.”

Zimmerman could be forgiven for being miffed about his frequent trips to the disabled list. He keeps himself in good shape – he has weighed the same for the past five years. He starts hitting and throwing at the same point in the winter now as when he used to, including the 2007 season, when he played in all 162 games.   He has no chronic injuries — he missed time the past three seasons with a torn abdominal muscle, an inflamed shoulder joint and a pulled hamstring.

“There’s nothing you can really do,” Zimmerman said. “My body has felt good every year. I’ve done the same thing in the offseason that I’ve done in the past. It’s just a matter of playing games. I think the more games you play, the more apt you are to get hurt. That’s why guys who play 155, 160 games every year for 10, 12 years is so incredible. I really don’t think people understand or give them enough credit for doing things like that. Unfortunately, the last couple years, it’s got me a little bit. Hopefully after this, for the next eight, 10 years, we won’t have to talk about.”