Skip to content

Davey talks Zim’s throwing, future at 3B

Aug 7, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today
Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing issues over the last two seasons have been well documented, a quick look at the league leaders in errors will tell you that. Zimmerman was tied for third in baseball last season with 19 and already has 17 this year, also good for third. 
Whether it’s purely a mental issue or a physical one – Zimmerman had shoulder surgery this offseason – is not entirely clear. Manager Davey Johnson has been back and forth at times on the issue and still can’t figure it out.
I don't know if it's physical or mental. Because I see him throw pretty good and in the game he'll want to get a lot of air under it,” he said.
If Johnson had to guess, he’d say it’s all in the third baseman’s head, as Zimmerman tends to be more accurate when he has less time to throw.
“I still think it’s more mental, not just trusting it and cutting loose,” Johnson said. “I see him getting his work in, and he throws it pretty good.”

Read more »

  1. SonnyG10 - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    I think its both physical and mental, but that's neither here or there. This problem will get fixed one way or another; Rizzo will see to that.

  2. Section 222 - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Zimmerman is still one of the best corner infielders in baseball with his glove, Not really.

  3. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Anyone who's been paying attention and not just reciting the same tired complaints over and over can see that Zimmerman's throwing has improved over the course of the season. The improvement hasn't come as quickly as expected, but apparently Zimmerman's surgery was much more extensive than was first let on. Physically he has to recover, and mentally he has to learn to trust that recovery. The overall trend in both aspects continues to be positive, and there's no reason to think that Zimmerman won't eventually return to what he once was. And this goes for his hitting, too. The power will return.

  4. Section 222 - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    Yes, Zim hasn't been as God awful as he was in that early season stretch. That's not saying much.) And yes, it's possible that he will "eventually" return to what he once was, assuming the problem is physical (his "apparently" more serious surgery or more difficult recovery) not mental. There are two questions though — when is "eventually," and can the Nats wait that long? Back in the pre-surgery days (and I'm talking about 2011 here) we used to make ourselves feel better about Zim's throwing problems by pointing to his amazing range and glove work. No longer. Zim is now a decent but not great hitter and a liability in the field. I don't think the Nats can accept that for another full season. This season is lost, but unless Zim is fully capable of playing 3B at a MLB level by spring training next year, they have to move him.

  5. Section 222 - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Chipper Jones ✔ @RealCJ10No more twitter for me. Said I'd do it for one year and the time is up. Too much hate and too many trolls. Much love to Braves country! XoGood riddance.

  6. 3on2out - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    First of all, the Real Feel Wood is right…his throwing has improved over the course of this season. And Deuces is right too…he is no longer one of the best. Regardless of his throwing, his range has shortened up…going to his left or to his right. And balls seem to clank off his glove on plays that he always made when he was younger. And there is more bad news, in my view. The transition to 1B is not necessarily an easy one. He will be adequate, but learning the foot work and receiving throws is not learned over night.

  7. Nats 128 - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    "SonnyG10 said… I think its both physical and mental, but that's neither here or there. This problem will get fixed one way or another; Rizzo will see to that."Sounds like you are changing your tune from earlier. While Zim's throwing accuracy has improved some, its still bad however the real killer is his poor range which Davey alludes to on his comments of him cheating up.

  8. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Zimmerman's glove work is as good as it ever was. His range is less, but that's because he's playing in since he doesn't fully trust his arm yet. As that trust of his arm builds, he'll start playing back again and his range will increase. When will this process be complete? Probably not until sometime next season. But Rizzo has given every indication that he's willing to wait the process out.

  9. JD - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    I'm not sure his bat plays at 1st base in any event.

  10. Nats 128 - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    I dont see how shoulder issues effect a players range. His comfort factor has him playing up on the grass most times.Davey makes no excuses for him and the quotes in the Washington Times are more direct."The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes" is the one making excuses for him.

  11. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Nats128, didn't I just say that his range is decreased because he's playing in, and he's playing in because he's not yet comfortable making the throws? That's not an excuse, it's a fact. And it's pretty much the same thing Davey is saying.

  12. phil dunton - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Zimmerman has has throwing problems over his entire career, but they have worsened over the past two seasons. He needs to be traded to an AL team to play 1B and DH. He still has trade value but not after his no trade contract kicks in next season. His offense is also in decline, which is even more of a concern.

  13. Steady Eddie - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Feel Wood — while I agree that one aspect of his diminished range is to adjust for his throwing limitations, that's not all of it. Remember early last season when he was getting several Web Gems in April by throwing his body around, that led (along with that dive into home) to his shoulder injury and 15-day DL stint? It looks like he's still feeling nervous about that as he doesn't do nearly as much all-out diving into the hole since then. Who knows if he's still hurting or is just being preventive? I'm not criticizing him for it as it's understandable and maybe even necessary, but it's very noticeable and it's real. And if it's effectively permanent, that further shortens his useful tenure at 3d.

  14. Doc - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    RZim's throwing is one of the many little and/or large things that have contributed to the Nats' decline this year.There is not a big margin of error in this sport. The old addage (I wonder who first said it—Branch Rickey???), baseball is a game of inches, was never so true with these Nats.

  15. Nats 128 - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Nothing more frustrating debating what Davey and most people think is MENTAL. It took alot of courage for Davey to go public on what is the worst defensive Sabremetrics for a 3rd baseman. Theres no guarantee Zim will ever improve from these levels. Hoping a player can turn things around and making plans on that is dangerous for the future of a team.Mental issues are tough to overcome. Its ruined many careers.

  16. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    "Remember early last season when he was getting several Web Gems in April by throwing his body around, that led (along with that dive into home) to his shoulder injury and 15-day DL stint?"No, I don't remember that. But I do remember how people complained about Zimmerman's range in the opening series last year when the Reds got several sharp hits right down the third base line. The point being that no third baseman is going to field every ball hit his way. Sure, in slow mo they all look like plays that should be made. But the game isn't played in slow mo.

  17. Nats 128 - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Mickey Sasser, Chuck Knobluck, Steve Sax, Rick Ankiel, are a short list of players who mentally couldnt make there throws in there original positions. When is it appropriate to add Ryan Zimmerman to that list.

  18. Nats 128 - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    "phil dunton said… Zimmerman has has throwing problems over his entire career, but they have worsened over the past two seasons. He needs to be traded to an AL team to play 1B and DH. He still has trade value but not after his no trade contract kicks in next season. His offense is also in decline, which is even more of a concern. "It may sound like hater talk however it is all back up in the stats book. His WAR is below 1.0 at game 113. Not good and he just cant seem to stay off the DL with stints almost every year. Not good for a player who is only 28. History doesnt project a good future ahead however with Kool Aid we can hope for a miraculous resurgence.

  19. Gardner - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Zimmerman at 1B is a disaster. His bat and glove play at third base but to pay 15mm+ per year for a guy who wouldn't crack the top half of the league at the position in OPS this year is not a great solution.

  20. Gonat - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    JD said… I'm not sure his bat plays at 1st base in any event. August 07, 2013 2:18 PM __________________________________You are right but he will be better than LaRoche so it will be a net/net gain.

  21. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Posted this under the last thread by mistake: "Zim's playing in because he doesn't trust his arm" is a Plan B explanation, because no one's buying the "he's still one of the best third basemen in the NL" line. So they've come up with this rationalization for his obvious defensive short-comings. He's not just "playing in," he's playing in as if he thinks he has to defend the bunt/Baltimore chop on every play. If he was just cheating for his arm's sake he wouldn't have to creep up on the batter's box. The real issue, I think, is that if he played at "normal depth" — at least 3-4 steps back from where he seems to be playing — he's afraid the hitters (except Cabrera) will, in fact, bunt on him on every pitch and test his sidearm/submarine throws and all his other defensive abilities. So he stands like a house by the side of the road while hot ground balls zip by (as if they were called third strikes). If it's really "mental" as Johnson wants us to believe — not that I think he believes that for a minute — then they should send him to a rotator cuff/clavicular psycho-therapist during the season.

  22. JD - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    If you want to say that Zim is having a bad defensive year and a mediocre offensive year (you would be right) then you can't in the same breath suggest that he be moved to 1st base which as a general rule is a position which is reserved for players with greater offensive production than these at 3rd base. Much of Zim's perceived value is in the fact that he has historically been a very good offensive player relative to other 3rd basemen. At 1st base he loses some of that value. It's not sacrilege to consider Zim as a potential trade candidate especially since we have a young 3rd basemen who could also hit very well in Rendon. Let's just remember how well Zim finished last season and not jump to conclusions.

  23. JD - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Let's see. We have 2 3rd basemen but some posters want one to play at 1st and one at 2nd so we have to find another 3rd baseman. We have a 1st baseman under contract for next year and a 2nd basemen who is in the minors but last year was overall the 3rd best 2nd baseman in the NL. Sounds like an Abott and Costello routine to me.

  24. Gonat - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    JD, it's a difficult decision Rizzo, Ryan and the Manager need to decide on.Davey has made it public even though it has been bitterly debated here for a long long time.I think Davey's about a position change is probably what he thinks but he won't be around to see that through.The big issue is that you can't even pull Ryan for a defensive replacement late in the game and the fact he won't play near the line in a no-doubles D hurts your strategy. It would also appear that Bryce plays closer to the leftfield line but I could be wrong.

  25. natsfan1a - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Buh-bye now. Watch out for that virtual door. ;-)@RealCJ10No more twitter for me. Said I'd do it for one year and the time is up. Too much hate and too many trolls. Much love to Braves country! Xo

  26. Gonat - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    I could see Ryan having a better year offensively playing 1st base kind of like Morse did when he switched to 1st base. It's the least demanding position on the field. It's certainly something to consider but not a guarantee.

  27. SonnyG10 - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Nats 128 said…"SonnyG10 said… I think its both physical and mental, but that's neither here or there. This problem will get fixed one way or another; Rizzo will see to that."Sounds like you are changing your tune from earlier. While Zim's throwing accuracy has improved some, its still bad however the real killer is his poor range which Davey alludes to on his comments of him cheating up.August 07, 2013 2:11 PMNope, not in the slightest. I said what I meant and I meant what I said in both cases.

  28. James Joyce - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Zim is soon to be either a LF or a 1B. I used to think that Werth would be our 1B of the future given his advancing age, height, and length of contract. Not sure what they do if Zim cannot man 3B for years down the road.

  29. JD - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    JJ, There are teams which will take a chance on a 28 year old 3rd baseman who has 2 consecutive 6.8 WAR years in his resume. Beltre had a few bad years also and is now considered in the top 3 at his position in baseball. Let's not bury players based on 1 bad year.

  30. JamesFan - Aug 7, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    I do not see an option other than to keep Zim at 3d. He does not have the offense to play 1st and the outfield is full. No one is going to take his salary in a trade. I suspect that next year may be better.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 86 63 -- 2
ATLANTA 75 75 11.5
MIAMI 73 76 13.0
NEW YORK 72 79 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 81 17.5
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter