Williams: Zimmerman's right shoulder degenerative
Third baseman tries throwing sidearm, will also see action at first base, DH
WASHINGTON -- Looking to throw a different way, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman tested his throwing arm Tuesday afternoon and made sidearm tosses without any pain. However, he was not in the starting lineup against the Marlins.
"It felt a lot better throwing that way. I take some more ground balls [Wednesday] like that and the hope is to get into a routine where it's normal and effective. We'll go from there," Zimmerman said.
If Zimmerman is not in pain Wednesday, he'll most likely play that night against Miami. Zimmerman is taking medication to lessen the inflammation in the shoulder.
"We are trying to take a little pressure off of it, so we could get a different slot so he feels comfortable," Manager Matt Williams said. "It's a little less stressful to be down there [as opposed to throwing overhand]."
On Sunday, Williams said Zimmerman had inflammation in his right shoulder, but there wasn't any structural damage.
However, Williams went on 106.7 The Fan FM on Monday night and gave a different description of Zimmerman's shoulder, saying the slugger has an arthritic shoulder. It looks like Zimmerman will see action at first base soon if he is not put on the disabled list.
"We have to look at Ryan, though, and say, 'Would I like Ryan to play third?' Yeah, I would. For a long time? Yes," Williams told the station. "But the fact of the matter is, Ryan's got an arthritic shoulder.
"It gives him problems, and sometimes it's tough on him. So we've started to do some things at first base with him, where we can give him a break sometimes, in that regard, so he can go play first. He enjoys playing first. We did a little bit at Spring Training, worked hard at the position, and he enjoys it over there.
"So it gives us options, it gives him an option to go play first when his shoulder's bothering him, or he needs a day, his legs need a day from playing third, or whatever it is. Those options are always there. So do I see him moving to first? Yeah, from time to time. But I would like him to be our third baseman for a long time. We have to take into account his shoulder, too. And that's a concern. It's a concern of his; it's a concern of everybody else. We're going to have to give him a break sometime."
A day later, Williams said he used the wrong term when he used the word arthritic when describing Zimmerman shoulder problems. Williams he should have used the word degenerative when describing the injury.
"It's a question of semantics. It's degenerative as opposed to arthritic," Williams said. "We all know he has some issues in there. The word, arthritic, shouldn't be taken literally as a result of his MRI or any changes in his shoulder as of late. .... It's just a question of me saying the wrong word."
General manager Mike Rizzo is confident that Zimmerman can get through the season and still be the regular third baseman.
"He has had the discomfort before and he always got through it. He threw today and he threw very well," Rizzo said. "It's a condition he has a deal with. It's part of his ... routine. He will take care of it every day."
According to Williams, there isn't any talk of Zimmerman having a cortisone shot. Besides playing third, Zimmerman will be a designated hitter during Interleague Play and will see some action at first.
When Zimmerman is the DH or playing first, second baseman Anthony Rendon will play third base. When Rendon is at third, Danny Espinosa will play second.
"If he feels fine, he will play third and that's what he has done. He has won a Gold Glove over there. You have to keep that in mind and he is pretty darn good at it," Williams said. "If we have to make a adjustments then we will do that."
In Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Braves, Andrelton Simmons hit what looked like a routine ground ball to Zimmerman, whose high throw to first pulled Adam LaRoche off the bag, with the ball tipping off the first baseman's glove and bouncing into the stands, allowing Justin Upton to score to make it a one-run game.
Zimmerman was taken out in the top of the sixth, and it was revealed that he had a sore right shoulder, which was a problem for him most of last season. Zimmerman acknowledged that the soreness never went away this past Spring Training. It also doesn't help that he has been dealing with the cold weather of late.
"It's just sore. It was more sore [Saturday] than it usually is," Zimmerman said on Sunday morning. "[Saturday], I felt worse than normal. I thought it was the right thing to tell Matt, and we'll see what you got."
It has been a challenging 2 1/2 years for Zimmerman. Starting in 2012, he had cortisone shots in the shoulder before undergoing surgery after the season. During the 2013 season, Zimmerman had issues recovering from the surgery. He had a tough time throwing to first until September.
Zimmerman had shoulder soreness during Spring Training, but the team didn't show any concerns until Saturday.
"I don't want to continue to hurt the team. Being able to make plays is a big part of the game," Zimmerman said. "It's going to help us win games, which is the ultimate goal."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.