Zimmerman missed 16 games with a left wrist contusion after being hit there by Giants closer Santiago Casilla. At the time of the injury, Zimmerman had been back less than a week from the strained left rib cage that knocked him to the disabled list just before the all-star break. He is hitting .222 with 12 homers, a disappointing start to a season in which he struggled early, then had his rhythm disrupted by injuries.
“I gotta get Zim right, because you know Zim, he can carry you for a month or six weeks,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said Friday night. “I encouraged him to start his season all over [Saturday], forget whatever has happened or transpired in the past.”
Lobaton, meanwhile, missed 27 games with left elbow tendinitis that had bothered him all season, but escalated in late July. Lobaton has started 22 games this season, spelling Wilson Ramos. He is hitting .194 with three homers in those starts.
Severino, meanwhile, impressed Baker with his ability to navigate fellow rookie Reynaldo Lopez through his last two starts, both of which lasted seven innings. He went 7 for 15 (.467) in six games, and is likely to be recalled when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Cole, who was brought up Thursday to bolster the depleted Nationals bullpen, did not appear in a game in the two days he was with the big league club.
Zimmerman will jump right back into the lineup Saturday night against Braves’ right-hander Tyrell Jenkins. He will start the game in the seventh spot in the order, something he has done four times in 1,373 career games.
“He hasn’t been here to play, so it’s not fair for him or us to just insert him back where he’s used to hitting,” Baker said. “I batted seventh. That’s the foundation man in your lineup to me. You’re gonna get a lot of opportunities with two outs. You’re gonna be a leadoff man. When he’s the leadoff man, he can roll the lineup over by getting on base, then you get to the top of the lineup again. That was where Ramos was for us early in the year, and that’s part of our success with him batting seventh. You have them in a crossfire between the top and the bottom.”
Danny Espinosa gets a day off Saturday, and Wilmer Difo will play shortstop in his place. Baker said he’s seen teammates take to Difo well, and hears them “get on him,” which in this case is a good sign. But maybe it’s just the name…
“Plus, he has a name that we’ve never heard before. I don’t know anybody named Difo,” Baker said. “It’s easy to say Difo. I don’t even know if they know his first name. I don’t really know…what’s his first name? Wilmer. See, I knew it, but his name’s Difo.”
Difo is at shortstop Saturday night.