The Washington Nationals' Face of the Franchise joined Billy and Cal Ripken on the brother's Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio's Ripken Baseball to talk about the success the Nationals have had so far this season this past Friday. What follows are some of the highlights of the conversation...(ed. note - "You can read Pt. 1 of the Ripken Baseball/Zimmerman interview HERE"):
Cal Ripken: "I've never been a big person on chemistry, when you say you're going to try to put together a team that all gets along. I mean it first has to start with the success you have on the field, and then the chemistry, sort of can be built. But when you add certain players, and maybe Pudge [Rodriguez] is one of those players...I kinda laugh a little bit, because Willie Harris is a guy that was a teammate of my for a brief period of time, and he just seems to have a joy for playing all over the field. Is it possible to bring someone in and have an immediate impact in the clubhouse?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "Well I think Pudge brings that respect I guess, along with him, he's been in the game a long time, obviously he's had a ton of success, and he comes and the younger guys can kinda look up to him and see what he does and see how he cares about his business. But, you know, for the most part there's a core of about 5 or 6 of us that have been together for (going) on two, three, four years now, and we were young when we started and I think a lot of us are growing up and like you said, chemistry can only take you so far, but having guys like Willie Harris that come to the field, and, he doesn't know what he's going to be doing every day, he doesn't know if he's going to start, he doesn't know if he has to come in and get a pinch hit like he did last night (ed. note - "A walk-off winner."), but you can never tell if you came to the locker room if he was a starter or if he was a bench player, and I think that's the thing we have this year. Everyone knows their role, everyone is, you know, not upset by their role, they understand what they need to do to help the team win, and we're all on the same page and we all work hard to do what we need to do to be ready to help the team win and so far it's worked pretty good this year."
Billy Ripken: "Now you guys got some guys out of the starting rotation that are throwing the ball good, but there's a guy that just got promoted to Triple-AAA, Stephen Strasburg, what did you see out of him in Spring Training and is there enough to see out of him in Spring Training in limited time for you guys to be excited about what's on the horizon for him when he comes up?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "Uh...yeah. You know, we're talking about [Braves' outfield Jason] Heyward as a special young player, this kid...I think this kid is going to be the same kind of way. He understands the game, he's very humble, very quiet, he works hard, obviously it helps to have the stuff that he has, I think, he's a special player. I mean, I've never seen anyone come in with the amount of hype, or the amount of expectations that he had and actually live up to it, so it's going to be pretty fun to watch him come along and see how he does up here, but I think we're all pretty sure that he's going to do well, and I'm sure he's going to be here pretty soon."
Cal Ripken: "Hey, Ryan. I'm more interested in your observations in Spring Training. You know, I always thought the greatest compliment you could give a pitcher if you were a hitter on the team is that you didn't want to hit off him in that early batting practice stuff that they call 'batting practice', and the pitchers actually pitch, did you have to face him just in sort of a batting practice excercise to kind of get a feel for how good his stuff is?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "I did not get a chance to face him at all. Like you said, I think a lot of people, they just 'tracked' that day, they weren't ready to swing yet, or at least that was there excuse for not swinging yet, but it's explosive, I guess, would be the best word to explain it, I think it's very free and easy and the ball jumps out of his hand a little bit different than anyone I've ever seen."
Billy Ripken: "I think that's a tribute to you Zim, that you've made it, you've arrived, see, Cal didn't have to face guys like that in Spring Training, I did..."