The Washington Post

Matt Williams doesn’t make a defensive substitution for Ryan Zimmerman with a narrow lead


Ryan Zimmerman. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Image

With his team clinging to a one-run lead, Nationals Manager Matt Williams opted not to replace Ryan Zimmerman at third base in the Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Cubs on Sunday, despite doing so in a similar situation last week.

In the Nationals’ 4-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday, Williams moved Anthony Rendon from second base to third and inserted Danny Espinosa at second to start the eighth inning. Williams said after the game he wanted his “finest defense” with the narrow lead.

But after the Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth Sunday, Williams didn’t follow the precedent in the next inning. Zimmerman handled the two groundballs hit his way in the top of the ninth without any hiccups.

“His arm feels really good, and he feels good,” Williams said. “Without getting into too much detail about the other day, there’s no difference.”

Zimmerman said he doesn’t communicate with Williams during the game about how his shoulder is feeling, and he doesn’t lobby for Williams to make a decision one way or the other. Zimmerman said his shoulder didn’t feel any better Sunday than it did last Wednesday.

“I feel the same,” Zimmerman said. “I think it’s going to feel the same forever. I wish it was different.”

Zimmerman’s worn right shoulder prompted him to switch to left field this season, but he has moved back to third base since left fielder Bryce Harper returned to the lineup. His battered shoulder has contributed to him making 30 throwing errors from third since 2012.

Zimmerman said Rendon at third and Espinosa at second is the team’s best defensive alignment.

“I have no problem in saying that,” Zimmerman said. “I think there are going to be times where [Williams] does that, and it gives us the best chance to win late in the game with a couple-run lead. I’m starting to feel a little bit better over there, but I’m still only a few games into it, so when he wants to do that, that’s completely fine by me.”

Isabelle Khurshudyan covers the Washington Capitals. You can email her at and follow her on Twitter @ikhurshudyan.



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