(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

For the fifth time in six games this homestand, Ryan Zimmerman trotted out to left field and tracked down fungos. First, outfielder coach Tony Tarasco whacked fly balls to him and Zach Walters. Then Manager Matt Williams took over with the bat.

The Nationals’ reticence about Zimmerman’s outfield play continued apace — “conditioning” remains the company line. But Zimmerman has taken enough fly balls and tracked down enough line drives for the Nationals to develop an opinion about his ability in the outfield. And they like what they see.

“He’s starting to like it out there,” one Nationals official said. “The more we see him out there, the more we think it could be likely.”

It’s plain to see why the Nationals think highly of Zimmerman’s early work in the outfield. Wednesday afternoon, he made a quick read, bolted across the outfield and tracked a liner down close to the left field line. Later, he made several over-the-shoulder catches sprinting back to the warning track.

Zimmerman’s ability to make the throws will not be tested until his broken right thumb heals and doctors clear him to throw. But his athleticism and instincts have already impressed the Nationals.