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Zimmerman out 4-6 weeks with fractured thumb

Apr 13, 2014, 12:06 AM EST

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Updated at 12:06 a.m.

ATLANTA — A Nationals club already reeling from several injuries to key players now will be without another lineup stalwart for an extended period of time after Ryan Zimmerman fractured his right thumb during Saturday night’s loss to the Braves.

Zimmerman, who hurt himself while getting picked off second base in the top of the fifth inning, will miss 4-to-6 weeks, according to manager Matt Williams, who now faces the challenge of playing the next month without his starting third baseman and middle-of-the-order slugger.

“It’s a big one, but we don’t have a choice,” Williams said. “Gotta go play and compete and win games. We’ll have to do that starting tomorrow.”

The injury occurred as Zimmerman dove headfirst to second base, trying to avoid getting picked off by Atlanta starter Alex Wood. After he was tagged out by shortstop Andrelton Simmons, he rose to his knees, looked down at his right thumb and started shaking it, remaining on the ground for several seconds. He eventually walked slowly off the field as many in the Turner Field crowd of 36,621 booed and went straight down the dugout tunnel with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz.

“The ball took Andrelton away a little bit, and he kind of lunged after the ball and fell on Zim,” Williams said. “But I think from what I’ve seen — and again, I’ll have to look at it — I think he did it on the bag. Unfortunate, but we’ve got to step forward from here.”

Zimmerman has already been dealing with a chronically injured right shoulder, which forced him to miss a game earlier this week and completely alter his throwing motion. Now he’ll miss at least a month with the latest in a string of early season injuries that has befallen the veteran third baseman.

This will mark the fourth consecutive April in which Zimmerman has spent time on the disabled list. He tore an abdominal muscle in 2011 and required surgery. He missed two weeks with his first bout of shoulder inflammation in 2012, the transaction that brought Bryce Harper to the major leagues for the first time. And he strained a hamstring last April, forcing another DL stint.

“We were just talking the other day about having a good April and how important it was to get through April not only healthy but hot,” teammate Jayson Werth said. “Put up good numbers and win a bunch of games in April, and kind of set up your season. It was probably 2-3 days ago we were talking about that.

“You feel bad for him. It’s such a freak injury on a play like that. But we’ll be alright. We’ve got some good players. We’ll manage. Anytime you lose the guy in the middle of your lineup, it hurts. But we’ve got guys who can play here, and I think we’re bringing up a kid that can play. We’ll have to figure out a way.”

The Nationals didn’t announce any corresponding roster move after Saturday’s game, but infielder Zach Walters was pulled from Class AAA Syracuse’s game minutes after Zimmerman was injured and is likely headed to Atlanta to join the club in time for Sunday’s series finale.

Williams suggested he will proceed now with Anthony Rendon taking over Zimmerman’s spot at third base, and Danny Espinosa coming off the bench to play second base.

“It’s not our first choice, certainly, but the fact that they can play multiple positions is good in times like this,” Williams said. “Certainly never want to miss somebody like Zim for that amount of time, but it is what it is. There’s nothing we can do about it now except play.”

Zimmerman becomes the latest lineup regular lost to injury. The Nationals saw catcher Wilson Ramos fracture a bone in his left hand on Opening Day, and they placed center fielder Denard Span on the 7-day concussion DL before Saturday’s game. Werth also was out of the lineup Saturday with a tight groin muscle but came off the bench to pinch-hit and is expected to play Sunday.

  1. manassasnatsfan - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    It looked innocent enough. Broken thumb is not fun. Have had one.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:38 AM

      I think Zim first hurt his shoulder on a head-first slide into home, and that was after he tore an abdominal muscle on a head-first slide into 2nd. Now this. The guy might have had a very different career if he had only learned to slide feet first.

      • unkyd59 - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:50 AM

        I don’t recall ever having seen a player slide feet first to avoid a pickoff…just saying…

      • laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:45 AM

        The slide into home was, obviously, not on a pick-off play, and he tore his abdominal muscle sliding into 2nd on an attempted steal.

        While your point is valid, it does not invalidate mine, i.e. “The guy might have had a very different career if he had only learned to slide feet first.” The injury to his thumb yesterday just goes to show how sliding head first can lead to serious injury.

  2. Doc - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    4 regulars down—this is getting ugly!

    Wad happened to ’14???

  3. Danny - Apr 12, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    The Walking Dead.

  4. Doc - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:24 PM

    Braves’ announcers just noted that Zack Walters is on his way to the big club.

  5. manassasnatsfan - Apr 12, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    Our announcers should report before the Braves

  6. Drew - Apr 13, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    Thank goodness for the strengthened bench. This is very unfortunate Zimmerman and the club.

    A few points:

    * This is not a criticism — just a statement of misfortune. I think Zim’s propensity for injury is likely to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. He played just 106 games in his age 23 season and 101 games in his age 26 season. Now he’s looking at a comparable number of games in his age 29 season.

    If he could just stay on the field he would have a shot at 400 home runs and even 3,000 hits, but those milestones only get tougher as he enters his 30s.

    * As Walters comes up, think of all the good minor leaguers Rizzo picked up in trades who became major leaguers — not just Ramos, but Krol, Treinen and now the Wyoming Kid.

    * Souza is the fourth member of the Nats’ 2007 draft class to make the majors, joining Detwiler, J. Zimmermann and Derek Norris.

    Others in that draft who didn’t pan out: Burgess, Smoker, and McGeary. Rizzo dealt Burgess as part of the deal to get Gorzy.

    He dealt another 2007 draftee, Bill Rhinehart, for Jonny Gomes.

  7. Eric - Apr 13, 2014 at 1:42 AM

    😦 😦 😦

    Why the hell were they booing? Ugh.

    Heal well Zim!

    • unkyd59 - Apr 13, 2014 at 6:54 AM

      Stay classy, BravesFan….

      • Eric - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:36 AM


  8. laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 1:56 AM

    Get well, Ryan.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    The fans in Atlanta booing as Zimmerman was leaving are despicable.

    Another freak injury. This one really sucks for Zimm, but taking the main positive of the situation he’ll be forced to rest his shoulder. He probably will miss the entire month of May. Espinosa and the kids coming up will have to take full advantage of their opportunities for this team to stay in the chase.

    Denard Span’s concussion is especially worrisome with his history. Now we will see if there are guys on the roster that can step up and show that they can play the OF. If Werth is okay, I am comfortable with Bryce in center and McLouth and Frandsen platooning in LF as the primary outfield.

    Regarding the “transfer” rule and what is and what is not a catch, MLB recently. issued a clarification. Now the tricky part will be for consistency from the umpires. From MLB:

    Rule 2.00 [Catch] provides that, “In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught.”

    After a similar call in the Rangers-Red Sox game on Tuesday, MLB issued a clarification, stating “umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch. An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand.”

    Now, look at the replay of McLouth’s play:

    The play in Cleveland was a horrible call, IMHO. You might think that McLouth’s was borderline, but it really wasn’t by the rule, and especially not by the clarification.

  10. Steady Eddie - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    Isn’t Frandsen primarily a third baseman? Unless Danny is really hitting and picks up his defense, I’d much rather have Sousa as the third outfielder with Frandsen playing IN position at 3d with Rendon at 2d.

    No more out of position gloves.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      I think Danny is doing just fine. McLouth has not been hitting. I wouldn’t mind if Sousa took his spot to see if he can hit major league pitching.

  11. unkyd59 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    So… Here’s hoping that this bench is all we have been hoping for, that we can stay near the top of the division, that all our boys can return in the best shape of their lives, and that this team can ignite the afterburners in the month before the All Star Game, and leave the competition choking on our dust. Oh! And that we can sweep the last two series with the Barves, leaving their classless fans staring at their stoopid imaginary tomahawks, all winter!

  12. laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:11 AM

    It’s a new day. Things are worse than they were yesterday morning, but Matt has got some thinking’ to do, regardless.

    Souza and Walters can both hit, and Souza is a plus outfielder, and certainly is the best defensive option for RF. He’s got some pop in that bat, as well. If he shows he can pinch hit, time to send TyMo back to the minors, as he has proven, once again, that he can’t pinch hit. They might try Souza in RF as a starter there until Werth gets back. I love Frandsen, but he is a contact, singles hitter type of guy.

    Souza as the 5th outfielder would free up Frandsen to play 2nd, a more natural position, or for platooning with Espinosa (or Walters) against lefties. I suppose Matt will go with Espinosa, but if Danny still doesn’t hit, Matt does have some viable options there. No matter what he does, he cannot replace RZ’s power bat in the lineup.

    But he cannot afford another black hole like the one that Ramos’ injury created. Lobaton and Leon, combined, must be hitting around .150, with numerous runners left in scoring position by both of them.

    McClouth for Span is not too bad a trade-off. Mac is actually a more consistent hitter, with more pop, and is also a better base runner. Of course, he cannot play CF like Denard, who is one of the very best. Harper in CF until Span can play again.

    With any luck, for a change, Werth will be able to play any day now, and Span will be back within a week, or so. In the meantime, Matt can evaluate some options first hand. One thing we saw yesterday was that the “white ninja” could face the heat and take it. You don’t know if they can until you test them in the inferno, and it doesn’t get any hotter than the Nats vs. the Braves in hostile territory.

    Both Roark and TJ came up short. There’s always somebody else dying to get the chance.

    Matt is stuck with a black hole in place of Ramos, and a former 8-hole hitter (Espinosa) in place of RZ. He has some better options to replace Span and Werth, if he has to. Souza may be a sleeper.

  13. Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    I thought a Werth was going to be back today, at least I read it somewhere , but regardless it seems that he has a groin injury again and if it’s the same as last year he may be in and out of the lineup.
    I am not personally crazy about Frandsen playing the OF either but Williams seems comfortable playing in LF.they could live with him out there for a few games. I haven’t personally seen Souza play so I can’t comment on him. Hopefully Span is back in a week and this outfield situation is very temporary. Best case scenario is that Suoza knocks our socks off.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:56 AM

      I saw Souza play RF in Viera and he looked pretty good, with I believe a plus (or at least solid) glove rep. If we have to play with half of our “B” lineup for a month, at least put the backups in their most solid position.

      And I agree with Laddie about TMo. His only useful position with the Nats is as a backup first baseman to RZim next year if Matt Skole and Brock Peterson don’t work out as or aren’t ready for that role. No point in keeping him in DC as he needs regular ABs to get untracked with the bat. And if there’s no place for him in DC, best thing for him and the team is to get him hitting better in Syracuse to show him for a trade.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      Here’s some video of Souza’s swing:

      The guy is about 6’3″ and about 220 lbs. That swing is simple and quiet, but it generates a lot of bat speed and a lot of power. Just listen to the sound of contact between bat and ball, and watch the laser he hit over the LF wall in that game.

      Saw him play RF in one of the ST games, and he showed off an absolute gun of an arm. The video also gives you some idea of his speed, and features him making a spectacular diving catch in RF. Souza is orders of magnitude superior to TyMo in the field. All you have to do is watch that video and you get an idea of his natural athleticism.

      He also has an excellent eye, and draws plenty of walks, but also strikes out too much. No telling how much of his bat transfers to the highest level, but there is only one way to find out. He is a plus defender, regardless. If it turns out he can pinch hit, he is an easy choice over TyMo, IMO.

      • Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        Thanks for the video on Souza. His minor league K ratio doesn’t look good though.The big boys have better curves, sliders, splitters, change ups, etc.Let’s hope he exceeds all expectations.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      I sure hope you’re right about Werth. They really need him in the lineup. Last year he had that hamstring pull which led to an extended stint on the DL. At his age, those nagging little injuries are harder to overcome.

  14. Section 222 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    We knew that the bench guys would get plenty of ABs. Now we’re about to see if they are more like Bernadina/Tracy/Moore in 2012 or Bernadina/Tracy/Moore/Hairston in 2013. I’m glad Souza is getting a shot, but skeptical he’ll be all that productive in his first stint in the show. The real pressure is on McLouth, Frandsen, and Espi.

    Zim really is snakebit. Hard to imagine that the time off is going to help his shoulder all that much since he had lots of time off over the winter and that didn’t seem to help, but we can always hope.

    At least the injury bug hasn’t hit our pitching staff yet (except for Fister, obviously). Knock on wood.

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Oooohhh deuces. Don’t draw the attention of the baseball gods to that. :)

  15. mrnat7 - Apr 13, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Maybe if we got out of those ugly red (Red Cross) uniforms our luck would change! I’ve said before we belong in BLUE. We are not the Phillies or Braves. Also, is Bryce Harper going to be our new Adam Dunn on offense? It seems like he’s going backwards. His strike out ratio is really climbing!

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 13, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      No, Bryce is not going to be our new Adam Dunn on offense. He’s just coming out of a slump. He is going to be fine. I believe his slump was due to the fact that he could only work out the upper part of his body over the winter because of the knee operation.

  16. sjm308 - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Laddie – thanks for that video and critque of Souza. I am excitied to see him play (probably not nearly as excited as he is!). I agree with you on Moore and just wonder why he was the first player called back when Hairston went down instead of Souza? Is that Rizzo just being stubborn or do they honestly think more of Moore than most of us do?

    Frandsen has surprised me with his play in the OF. He has not looked nearly as lost out there as most of the infielders we have tried to turn into utility guys. I think with the injury, he will return to the IF and I am hoping they will let Souza get most of the time out there.

    For the last game in ATL, I would rest Werth one more game, Start McClouth in LF, Souza in RF and I would keep Bryce in CF until Span gets back.

    Holding my breath on Danny showing up strong. What a great story that would be if we can weather all this adversity and have just a solid month of baseball. We make errors against this Braves team that I just don’t see us doing against others. That relay throw from Desmond was off by over 10 yards!! Not saying a good throw would have had the runner (Freeman I think) but it would have been close.

    OK – new day, new hat (today its the hat of the Frank Howard led Senators of the mid to late 60s. I have baseball cards of Don Zimmer, Eddie Brinkman and of course Howard in this hat. Mine is pretty old and might be the oldest in my collection but here is hoping it brings us luck.

    Go Nats!!

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:36 AM

      sjm — I assume they called up TMo first because he was filling in for an infrequently used PH with weaker defensive skills (Hairston), and they didn’t want to call up Souza to sit on the bench.

      Sigh. Now it looks — for at least a few days until Span comes solidly back — that we need Souza as a starter whenever Werth needs to sit.

    • laddieblahblah - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:48 AM

      Frandsen is a baseball player – I think he is their emergency catcher, too! If you have a hole on your team, you can just plug him in. Great pickup by Rizzo.

      Moore is a much better fit at 1b, and poor Matt Skole is having a heckuva time regaining his form from year before last – he’s hitting around 0.50, or so, in AA now. I don’t think the Nats quite know what to do with Tyler Moore, since Zim will almost certainly move to 1b next year. Maybe they brought him up because Zim will not be able to back up ALR at 1b, at least for a couple of months.

      TyMo can’t do any worse than ALR did against Wood yesterday. I doubt if Matt pencils in ALR the next time the Nats have to face Wood. Matt notices and adjusts for match ups like that one yesterday, which was very damaging to the Nats offense.

      This is Danny’s chance. If he has any sense at all, he will try his best to help the team by becoming more of a contact guy. Frankly, I have not been that impressed with his D since he has returned to the bigs. For my money, Rendon is already a better 2nd baseman than Danny, as well as a better 3rd baseman than RZ.

      “That relay throw from Desmond was off by over 10 yards!!”

      I think the Braves must put stupid pills into the Nats dugout supply of Gatorade. Desi has already made several errors against them, Harper has been picked off twice, ALR has been tagged out 3 times running the bases, Leon and Lobaton keep swinging for the fences when a grounder or blooper might get a RISP home, etc. etc., etc.

      Matt has been keeping his cool. He reminds me a little of the Cards’ Methany. Able to keep his head while others, like me, are about to spontaneously combust just watching those guys screw up, and then screw up, again, and again.

  17. scnatsfan - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    The deconstruction of a promising season

  18. Krapegelloc - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Palm + forehead = seriously?!?!?!? Again?!?!?

  19. Eric - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Ugh. So this want just a horrible nightmare I had…
    😦 😦 😦

  20. natsfan1a - Apr 13, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    Saw the fracture news this morning. Oh, fuuuudge.

    Watched the game through the 5th and then set the DVR and went to bed. Geez, this replay thing makes for some looooong games.

    Behind on posts and comments (and late innings viewing), so this may already have been mentioned, but I saw where MLB allowed as how they’d made the wrong call on a challenge in the Sox/Yankees game (link below). Um, guys? I don’t think that’s the first or only one you missed. But it was the Sox and Yankees so I guess it matters. Geez…

    • Joe Seamhead - Apr 13, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      1a, that link just shows that this replay system is screwed up. I really don’t think MLB has put in an accurate system. I detest the whole thing.

      • Another_Sam - Apr 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM

        Joe, I’m with you on slamming the replays. If a major league umpire misses a bang bang call [what got there first — foot or ball?] he is in the wrong line of work. I want to live by this kind of call. I’m less hard over on the replay to determine what’s fair or foul, what’s in the park and what’s out of the park, and so on. But for outs at a base, catch or trap, and so on — go with the umpire’s call and get rid of inadequate upmires.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 13, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        Yup. Not a fan of it myself.

    • dcwx61 - Apr 13, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      nice link, thanks

      MLB said the conclusive angle showing Anna was out wasn’t immediately available inside the replay booth in New York.

      Huh ?????

  21. edshelton2013 - Apr 13, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    In addition to the errors, bad base-running and injuries from last night, one key stat cannot be overlooked:
    1-for-16 with RISP. Where are the bats when we need a key hit??





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