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‘Where is Ryan Zimmerman?’ — and other Nationals questions

Ryan Zimmerman hasn’t played since early May. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

TORONTO — It was more than a month ago that Ryan Zimmerman landed on the disabled list, pushed there by what was initially described as a back injury, then officially described as an oblique strain. Neither he nor the Nationals staff members who spoke about the injury seemed concerned that it would linger, though all of them seemed determined to give him plenty of time to heal.

Now, almost five weeks later, Zimmerman is not taking batting practice with his teammates, as he did in prior weeks. He can, of course, hit in the batting cage. His manager says he has not had a setback.

“He’s still doing his stuff. It’s just a very slow, progressing process,” Dave Martinez said. “He’s still getting his work in.”

The Nationals planned to lose Zimmerman for a long period of time this season, learning from his recent injury history and investing in Matt Adams, who would be able to play every day should Zimmerman succumb. Adams left Friday’s game after taking a pitch off his left index finger, and he did not play Saturday. He was not in the starting lineup Sunday, either, though his splint was gone and he was texting freely with both hands in the clubhouse. What greater endorsement of full health could one need?

Likely for more specific medical reasons, Martinez seemed optimistic Adams would not require a disabled list stint, nor need to miss much more time, though he did not say so explicitly. The Nationals have seen early injury optimism evaporate before.

“He’s doing better today,” Martinez said. “Hopefully things get better, and we’ll see where he’s at.”

Daniel Murphy will play first base in his absence for the second straight day. Murphy said after the game, in which he went 0 for 4, that he “isn’t having very good at-bats.” But against right-handed starter Sam Gaviglio, Martinez decided Murphy’s left-handed at-bats will be good enough, particularly on a day he is resting Adam Eaton to “get him off the turf.” Eaton played the field Friday night and served as the designated hitter Saturday.

Martinez also decided to give Bryce Harper a half-day off Sunday by using him as the designated hitter. He said Saturday he wants Harper to swing a little less before games; he thinks the 25-year-old is trying to work his way out of a slump but is actually making things worse with repeated efforts. He said Harper won’t take many swings before Sunday’s game, and he hopes that will allow him to relax and start hitting again. Harper is hitting .163 in June, and he struck out looking twice Saturday.

  • In other news, Erick Fedde will start Monday night’s game against the Yankees at Nationals Park. That game will begin after the teams complete their suspended game, and the Nationals have not made pitching decisions about the half game. They have not announced a starter for Tuesday night’s series opener against the Orioles, either, though right-hander Jefry Rodriguez is on turn in Class AA Harrisburg and seems the likeliest candidate.


Trea Turner SS

Bryce Harper DH

Anthony Rendon 3B

Daniel Murphy 1B

Juan Soto LF

Michael A. Taylor CF

Brian Goodwin RF

Wilmer Difo 2B

Spencer Kieboom C

(Tanner Roark P)


Curtis Granderson DH

Teoscar Hernandez LF

Yangervis Solarte 3B

Kendrys Morales 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Russell Martin C

Randall Grichuk RF

Aledmys Diaz SS

Devon Travis 2B

(Sam Giviglio P)