Injuries have knocked down several other regulars for part of this season, and Zimmerman does not play untroubled. Since mid-April, the Nationals first baseman has dealt with plantar fasciitis, the chronic, painful condition that lingers even with daily treatment. For the most part, Zimmerman has played seemingly unaffected.
Friday night, Zimmerman charged around third base on a Wilson Ramos single. He dove left, right around the tag of Reds catcher Brayan Pena to score successfully. Other than occasionally slowing up long before second base on sure doubles, and sometimes hobbling noticeably back to the dugout, Zimmerman seems to be managing the injury and enduring the pain. He left the game on April 23 with pain. He played the next day, and in every game since.
“We treat it and we manage it enough where in the game honestly it doesn’t bother me that much,” Zimmerman said. “It’s more after the game and when I get up in the morning, but that doesn’t really matter. You talk to anybody in this room, I’m sure they have something they could complain to you about.”
Zimmerman said he believes the injury is easier to manage at first base than it would be at third. With that condition, however, standing in metal cleats on hard dirt is troublesome regardless of which patch of dirt one picks. When tension builds in the arch of the foot — which can be caused by lots of standing or pounding on the heel — the fascia in the bottom of the feet become inflamed. When that happens, they express displeasure as stabbing pain, and do so relentlessly, until they are able to loosen up.
Waking up in the morning can be painful. Any chance the foot has to stiffen up can be, too. Like most of the Nationals do for nagging injuries, Zimmerman gets treatment on the foot before and after games. The diligence has kept him in a Washington lineup, one in which injury has prevented consistency.
Injury aside, because he has never connected foot pain to his hitting, Zimmerman has been unable to establish consistency at the plate this season. Aside from a strong stretch in early May, he has managed to drive in runs without driving up his batting average, seemingly feeling for timing. The career .283 hitter is hitting .231 with 12 doubles and five home runs — a .387 slugging percentage for a .472 career slugger. Though he has been able to accumulate 33 runs batted in through 49 games, and would therefore be on pace to drive in more than 100, increased production in terms of hitting and power will become more crucial in his regular fifth spot if teams begin to pitch around Bryce Harper. Even if they do not, Harper is walking at such a rate that Zimmerman will likely continue to come to bat with runners on. He is hitting .264 with a .494 slugging percentage with runners on, and has hit four of his five homers in those situations.
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