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UPDATE: Zimmerman could return to Nats by Tuesday

May 30, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

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Updated at 5:51 p.m.

Ryan Zimmerman’s long road back from a broken thumb suddenly looks a lot shorter.

Zimmerman will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac tonight, batting third and serving as designated hitter at Pfitzner Stadium, his first game appearance in nearly seven weeks.

Out since fracturing his right thumb April 12 in Atlanta, Zimmerman was only cleared to resume baseball activities three days ago and took his first full round of batting practice Wednesday. He impressed during that session, though, blasting several home runs deep into the Red Porch seating area in left-center field and another one over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.

Club officials determined Zimmerman is ready to start facing live pitching, so he’ll get a chance to receive multiple at-bats tonight for Potomac, which hosts Salem at 7:05 p.m.

“He’s got to get some at-bats,” manager Matt Williams said. “He hasn’t hit live. The field BP was great the other day. He did it again yesterday. … The good thing is that he was able to do a lot of things, even when it was still broken. So it’s not like he’s got to really get back into running shape. He’s been doing that. So it’s a question of his timing and feeling good at the plate and seeing some live pitching.”

Assuming all goes well tonight, Zimmerman should be able to ramp things up quickly over the rest of the weekend. At some point, he’ll play in the field, likely seeing time at third base, first base and left field as the Nationals prepare for the possibility of the veteran bouncing around between positions once he returns.

“There may be games where he does a little bit of outfield, comes back and plays third for a couple innings, goes to first for a couple innings, so he can get them all done,” Williams said. “The key for him, though, is get his timing at the plate.”

So, how long will that take? Williams suggested that he and other members of the coaching staff and front office might use Monday’s off-day for the Nationals as an opportunity to go to Woodbridge and watch Zimmerman in person. If they like what they see, perhaps he’ll be activated off the DL in time for Tuesday’s series opener against the Phillies.

“It’s possible,” Williams said. “That’s awfully early, though. That’s very early. That’s just a few games. Being off that long, it’s difficult. But we’ll see how he looks.”

  1. knoxvillenat - May 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Reposting from the previous thread.

    Sunday or Tuesday of next week? Sounds awful quick coming off a seven week ride on the DL.

    • Danny - May 30, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Zimmerman has always had quick rehab assignments after coming off the DL is Kilgores reasoning.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      Knoxville, be careful, last DL he came off after 1 game and I questioned that wisdom and was blasted for it. His 1st start back was an 0-fer and in his 2nd start I think he hit a HR which seemed to justify to some here that I know nothing. I believe most players need 2 to 3 rehab starts and must show they having their timing back while also facing some AA or AAA pitching but in the Nats case AAA is a far trip.

  2. chaz11963 - May 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    That’s great news Mark!

  3. tcostant - May 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    My repost:

    Wow that is way to quick, give at least 7 to 10 days to get his swing down, while playing some LF and 1B before you rush him back and then it takes him another week to find his timing. I remember when Storen came back from the DL and then didn’t even throw him in back to back games in the minors. Get these guys the reps they need before calling them back up. Please.

    Remember he didn’t even hit last week and his injury was in early April. Plus he played less than a full game in spring at 1B and has never played LF in a game. Lets check those boxes…

    • manassasnatsfan - May 30, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      It takes about 25 at bats to get the timing back. When he comes back, more than likely he will not be up to his normal standards, but stull will bring a lift.

      However where do you play him?

      • thenatom - May 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

        Uh, not at first the way ALR is goin! I assume he will split time between left and third. If Zimm is healthy enough to play third, which I would like him to be before he returns, it depends on whether Matt wants to use McLouth/Hairston or Frandsen/Espinosa on any given day.

  4. jobusaves - May 30, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    When Zim gets back where do you play him? Looks like McLouth is getting into a rhythm at the plate and I like his speed at the bottom of the lineup. I’m not sitting LaRoche. The only option, in my mind, is to move Rendon to 2B and just hold your breath when Zim is forced to field the ball at third. Other than the spot start in LF or 1B against lefties, I think this is the only option. The Nats may have to package a trade featuring LaRoche or Span in order to get Zim regular playing time in the OF or 1B. Thoughts?

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