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Zimmerman’s MRI negative; Fister progressing; Harper gets day off

Apr 6, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT

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Ryan Zimmerman’s MRI shows no structural damage

An MRI on Ryan Zimmerman’s right shoulder revealed no structural damage, just inflammation, Nationals manager Matt Williams said on Sunday. The Nats’ third baseman will now rest on the team’s off-day and be reevaluated Tuesday.

Zimmerman actually pinch-hit for the Nationals in the eighth inning of Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Braves, despite taking the day off due to shoulder pain. Manager Matt Williams put Zimmerman in the game because the shoulder does not act up when he swings.

“Swinging is fine. The issue he’s got is probably throwing overload. He throws a lot and he works at it really hard so it may be a little overload at this point,” Williams said.

Williams and the Nationals will now look at ways to adjust Zimmerman’s throwing workload. That could mean limiting his practice before games.

“We look at it and say ‘it’s a little bit of overload.’ So we have to curtail that just a touch to make sure he feels good. What does that involve? Maybe it doesn’t involve as many throws. Maybe it’s cutting down the amount of grounders he takes in pregame. I know that he likes to go down, especially when it’s cold, to the cage and throw. Maybe it’s an adjustment to that, too.”

The Nationals have revealed plans to try Zimmerman out at first base this season at some point. It could be a good solution for him long-term given he would remain in the lineup without having to throw across the diamond.

For now, however, Williams doesn’t see that as imminent.

“I think we’ll do what we have to do, but I envision him playing third base. That’s the plan, but of course you have to look at things and adjust if need be. As of right now, as soon as he feels good he’ll be back at third.”

Williams did not rule out keeping Zimmerman out of the lineup, but on the roster for pinch-hit situations. The skipper is hopeful a few days off will do the trick and alleviate the soreness.

“What we need to do is make sure that he’s good. We’ll take the appropriate steps to make sure his arm feels good. Once it does then he’s going to play third for us. Until that time there may be some adjustment within there, but I don’t anticipate it being a long time.”

Zimmerman left Saturday’s game after committing a throwing error and feeling discomfort in his shoulder. It is not clear how long he will be out of the lineup.

Fister will move forward with throwing program after playing catch Sunday

Doug Fister played catch from 60 feet on Sunday before the Nationals’ 2-1 victory over the Braves and felt no discomfort in either his back or elbow, manager Matt Williams said.

Williams shared the good news after the win:

“He threw today out to 60. No issues. We’ll continue that progress so the next step is to 90 and then beyond that. We’ll get him back going off a mound. He’s probably looking at a flat ground first, then off the mound and progress. But today was no problem.”

For more on Fister’s rehab from pitching coach Steve McCatty, see this story from pregame.

Harper gets day off, will likely be back in lineup on Tuesday

Matt Williams gave Bryce Harper the day off after the struggling outfielder showed visible frustration on Saturday night with an emotional outburst in the team’s dugout. Harper is just 3-for-21 on the season and told reporters later that night he felt “lost.”

Williams was asked on Sunday if Harper’s struggles have anything to do with the hit he took to the head on Opening Day from Eric Young, Jr. of the Mets.

“I don’t think so. He’s shown no ill-effects. He was tested that day, he was tested the following day and the following day. I don’t think so, his timing’s off. He got frustrated. It’s one swing away from turning it around, too. That’s young players and he’s still very, very young. It’s going to turn, though.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Apr 6, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Maybe Ryan should not play when the weather is so cold.

  2. laddieblahblah - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    I must have passed out. I dreamed the Nats had beaten the Braves in a 2 – 1 squeaker. Must have been something I ate. I’m just now coming to my senses. I need medication.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      Nice win. MW needed that. I thought he managed well today and the players really stepped up.

      Friday with all the aggressive errors were reversed today. A good conservative approach and sitting Harper was a necessary move against the tough lefty.

      We can discuss RZim more later.

  3. texnat1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    So is Zim going to go back for another cortisone shot or just rest?

    Given that the injury and the surgery occurred long in the past, why would a couple days of rest cure it? Or at least, won’t this just keep happening?

    • letswin3 - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Taxnat1, I was just going to post something similar relative to Zim. He’s had recurring problems with that shoulder for a very long time now, with cortisone injections and surgery providing only temporary relief. Matt Williams is fooling himself if he feels that a few days off or skipping some throwing drills are going to get him back to where he needs to be. I think this is a much bigger issue, and it needs to be reviewed in detail by medical professionals. They can try to nurse him through this season, with more cortisone therapy or whatever else they think might be helpful, but what if they are causing more damage …. and how many more throwing errors causing losses can be tolerated. It sure sounds like a bigger issue being treated like something smaller right now.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      Supposedly excessive Cortisone shots can cause longterm issues. I just don’t see a shot helping his throwing IMHO.

      • texnat1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        Yes, I wonder if Cortisone shots actually cause scar tissue.

        I fear that Zim may need to take a year off or something to actually get some relief here. And even then, his days at 3rd should be done.

        Its not just the throws that kill you. The hidden cost is all the hits the Nats give up because he is playing so far in to compensate for his arm.

        As Keith Law over on ESPN said, the Nats have no real weaknesses other than 3B defense.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 6, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        One of the few times I agree with Keith Law. When Bryce gets hitting this team will make a run.

  4. Sonny G 10 - Apr 6, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    Maybe he can break up the scar tissue during warmer weather. Gotta believe there is some way through this.

    • JW - Apr 6, 2014 at 7:23 PM

      Again, scar tissue has never been mentioned by anyone with access to the medical professionals who are examining and treating Zimmerman.

  5. breakbad1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    I continue to be amazed at the childlike credulity team officials expect of Nats fans. For several years now wild errors have been explained with various reasons. Last night we expected the worst MRI result of all time. Now we are told the MRI was find, but there’s a little inflammation.

    Folks, MRIs on all MLB third basemen would reveal inflammation on every single one of them. The MRI showed nothing because the problem is mental. This is the yips.

    And in his presser, Matt Williams tells us this this is just due to RZ throwing too much. In April. And that it’s a short-term problem…that has had all knowledgeable baseball fans holding their breath on every Zimmerman throw for the last 5 years.

    I would love to commission a scientific poll of NI readers, to see who believes this is a short-problem, and that Ryan will probably throw just fine the 156 games starting Tuesday night. I would predict 0% of NI readers believe this, because it is nonsense.

    It was almost unreal watching Rendon make two perfect throws–high velocity, on a line, to second on force plays to end innings today. Both throws would’ve hit a target approximately 3 x 3 inches. We are all accustomed to Zimm throwing these into the outfield as well. We hold our breath because–even these are not over-hand-throws for Zimm, we cannot expect him to make these throws.

    I’m tired of all the dishonest nonsense from the team. In a fan poll of who loves Zimm the most, I would fight for the number one spot. But it’s time to be honest: he cannot play third in the major leagues anymore.

    Because first basemen must also have accurate arms in pro baseball, he cannot play first either.

    • dgourds - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      +1. Remember when the shoulder issue last year supposedly affected his swing, but not his throwing? All a bunch of BS. It’s the yips, plain and simple. If you look at his mechanics, he has this weird hesitation–kind of like he is thinking how to throw while he is throwing it.. He’s a great guy but this is a huge problem for us. We need his bat in the lineup. But no major league team can have that at third. Williams is awesome. Benched him immediately. He hasn’t ruled out using him as a bench player. He makes great, tough decisions like putting Det in the bullpen. Love him so far.
      Zim’s most viable option would be as a DH, but what AL team will pick up that contract? The Nats are hosed on this one.

  6. breakbad1 - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    third line: “MRI was fine,” (not “fine”)

  7. senators69 - Apr 6, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Zim —
    * DH in AL parks
    * Platoon some with AL at 1B
    * Squeeze in some game at 3B only when his arm is feeling up to it.
    * Offseason — practice at 1B
    * When AL is gone, Zim starts at 1B

  8. realdealnats - Apr 6, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    And take Fister along slow.

  9. Doc - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    I started to follow the Nats in 2008, I have been reading about RZim’s arm problems since then. That’s about 6 years ago.

    Initially, it was just that Zim airmailed some of his throws. Since then it’s been his off/on arm medical status.

    We’ll stop talking about this stuff when he starts playing 1B or becomes a bench player, and not before!.

  10. rabbit433 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    Oh, Zim’s swinging is great. If he could only hit the ball. I, for one, didn’t think the MRI would reveal anything. It’s mental. Don’t even want to get into throw overload. So, when he gets over to first base all we have to put up with are he strikeouts. Thanks to Desmond and the pitching staff as most notable for yesterday’s win. Can’t believe I’m now a fan of Espinosa; even with the errors yesterday.

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