Jordan Zimmermann rested his right biceps strain over the all-star break and felt good enough after the Nationals’ team workout Thursday that he said he plans to start Tuesday. Zimmermann skipped the All-Star Game, his second straight selection, because of the injury.
Zimmermann is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday and, barring any issues, is on track to start Tuesday. Zimmermann played long toss from 100 feet Thursday and “everything felt fine,” he said. Zimmermann left his July 11 start in Philadelphia early when he felt cramping in his arm.
“I felt all along it was going to be fine,” Zimmermann said. “I knew the break would help and get some meds in me. … I knew I wasn’t going to go on the DL. I knew it wasn’t that bad. It was something I needed, a little rest.”
The Nationals labeled Zimmermann’s injury simply as a biceps strain after an MRI before the all-star break showed no structural damage to his elbow or shoulder. Manager Matt Williams was optimistic that Zimmermann would return from the layoff feeling better.
“From the tests and everything that was done to determine what it could be, being in the belly of the muscle gives you the indication that it’s not something that’s ligament-related or shoulder-related,” Williams said. “All those tests came back fine. I’m more confident than you would be otherwise. He’s an important part of our team and you want to make sure he’s good to go and we had to take those steps to do so.”
Added Zimmermann: “I’m gonna keep heating [my arm] up and stay on top of it. I don’t see it ever being an issue the rest of the year.”
Williams also made a minor tweak to the post-break rotation because of travel issues. Before the break, Williams said the first three starters after the break would be Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister. But Tanner Roark is slated to start Saturday and Gonzalez on Sunday. Fister is scheduled to start Monday and followed by Zimmermann.
The reason for the flipping Fister, Roark and Gonzalez? Gonzalez, a Miami native, couldn’t get to the team’s Thursday workout to throw his bullpen because his connecting flight to Washington was canceled due to mechanical issues, Williams said.
As a result, Gonzalez couldn’t throw his bullpen until Friday afternoon, which wouldn’t make his available to start until Sunday. So Williams will turn to Roark for Saturday’s game and shifted everyone back a day, keeping Gonzalez and Fister back-to-back as originally planned.
Fister will have to wait the longest wait, 11 days, in between starts. Williams said he simply wanted to get Fister the extra time, and Fister added it wasn’t because of any physical issue.
“I think it just worked out best with certain circumstances that happened,” he said. “I get an extra day and that’s it. “