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Zim back in lineup, hoping new throwing motion works

Apr 9, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

AP AP

Having successfully made it through two days of rest and then two days of limited throwing with a new sidearm motion, Ryan Zimmerman returned to the Nationals lineup Wednesday night, plugged back into his usual spot at third base and hoping he can make it through the season with no more disruptions.

“It’s a constant work in progress,” he said. “It’s tough. But for now, we found something that I think has a chance to work without hurting. So that’s a relief. Because I want to be out there and I want to help the team win. When I can’t do that, it’s frustrating.”

Held out of Sunday’s game with shoulder pain that proved costly on a Saturday night throwing error, Zimmerman rested on Monday and then began trying out the sidearm throwing motion early Tuesday afternoon. He gave it another shot Wednesday afternoon and felt good enough to return to the lineup.

The difference was noticeable, not only to Zimmerman but to others who watched the drill.

“A lot stronger,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who was on the receiving end of the throws. “That was the first thing I noticed. He had a lot more life and zip back on the ball. It’s like anything; it’s going to take some practice. But for Day 2 of throwing from down there … it looked natural and it’s having a lot more life coming out of his hand.”

Zimmerman has thrown sidearm previously in his career, and he has always thrown that way when he’s forced to come charging in for slow rollers down the third base line. There is some adjustment, though, to altering his form on every throw he makes, regardless of the situation.

“It’s not that big of a change,” said manager Matt Williams, himself a former third baseman. “I think more is made of it than needs to be. Because on any given play, he does it. If he goes to his left, he’s kind of there already. The question is, on the normal grounder that’s just hit right at him, feeling that he can get a little bit lower so he doesn’t feel it as much.”

There is no long-term plan set in stone for Zimmerman, who is dealing with a longstanding shoulder condition that isn’t going to magically improve at this stage of his career. For now, he’s taking this day-to-day, hoping this somewhat desperate measure allows him to continue playing at a productive level.

“[Doctors] say I’ve played baseball too long,” he said with a smile. “I don’t think there’s any cure for that. … It feels good. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we decided to go ahead and try it. It’s not as stressful as the arm angle that’s higher. So we figured we’d give this a try.”

  1. Candide - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    Holding my breath the way I used 4-5 years ago whenever a grounder was hit to Ian.

    If he can make this work – if he can make a couple of good strong throws tonight with the new motion – imagine what a morale boost it would be for the rest of the team.

    Maybe Gio can bring a rubber chicken into the clubhouse tonight, for good luck.

  2. JayB - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:51 PM

    Move Zimm to 2nd base and Rendon to 3rd. I have played both….huge difference in the throws….only reason not to do it is me first pride factor in Zim…it would help the team win tonight.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:07 PM

      I’m sure they’ve considered your suggestion and won’t do it.

    • exposedindc - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:09 PM

      Excellent observation….hadn’t thought about that idea

    • wskyrnr21 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      Won’t help the ” YIPS”

  3. JayB - Apr 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    I know they will not do it….why is the question…do you really think the team is better with zim at 3rd throwing side armed from the hole? Watch Rendon…he can do both and he throws side armed at 2nd 80% of the time. You can turn the DP with a side armed low bridge to get the runner down….they will not do it because of politics and pride and that is not how you set a winning tone for a franchise. Nats refuse to do what it take to win.

    • JW - Apr 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      They won’t do it because Zimmerman at 3rd/Rendon at 2nd is a much better combination than Rendon at 3rd/ Zim at 2nd. Neither one is ideal, but Zim 3rd/Rendon 2nd is better by far. It’s as simple as that.

      • alexva6 - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        oh come on JW, don’t you realize that every move they don’t make is because of stubbornness, pride or ego.

        where have you been?

    • wskyrnr21 - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:50 AM

      Zimmerman deal is six-yr, $100M extension w full no-trade clause.

      Zim now guaranteed $126M over next eight yr, through 2019

      Looks like they have some time to figure it out!

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