Ryan Zimmerman throwing without a splint on his thumb before Monday’s game. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As the Nationals expected, Ryan Zimmerman was fully cleared by doctors on Monday to throw and hit for the first time since fracturing his right thumb on April 12. The results of Zimmerman’s x-ray taken Monday were good, according to Nationals Manager Matt Williams, and the infielder will begin his return-to-play rehab program.

After six weeks, Zimmerman’s thumb has healed enough for him to begin baseball activities. While Zimmerman will still need to work to get his timing back at the plate and get his arm back into game shape, his progress is welcome news to an injury-plagued Nationals team struggling with an sluggish offense. Zimmerman was hitting .364 through 10 games when he broke his thumb sliding back to second base on a pickoff.

Williams said there is no timetable for Zimmerman’s return from the disabled list. Zimmerman has missed 40 games, including Monday’s loss to the Marlins.

“We don’t have a definite on that yet,” Williams said. “But he’s taken the next step, which is good. So he’ll start swinging the bat in the cage, some tee work, some soft-toss work. See how he does with that and progress from there.”

Williams said the Nationals will still be cautious with Zimmerman, hoping to avoid any setbacks. Zimmerman had been recently throwing lightly with a specially fitted splint for his thumb. But before Monday’s game, he threw without it. Zimmerman, however, has not been hitting or taking grounders because the Nationals have feared hurting the thumb again while it healed.

“We’re going to take it a little slow with the bat because vibration can certainly cause pain, let alone any further damage,” Williams said. “But he’s been cleared to do that, which is good.”