BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 24: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals hits a single in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles during an interleague game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 24, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's 2 for 4 performance in the Sunday finale of the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles left the 27-year-old infielder 6 for 40 (.150 AVG) with a walk, six K's and two double play grounders in his last ten games. Zimmerman lined a 95 mph 3-1 fastball from O's right-hander Jake Arrieta to left-center to drive in the only run the Nats scored in the 2-1 loss and later reached on a chopper up the middle that got through the infield. "He looked better," manager Davey Johnson told reporters after the Nationals dropped two of three on the road at Camden Yards, "I know he got some treatment before the game, and he looked like the old Zim, [swinging] the bat with authority and that's a great sign."
"I don't want to give you all the gory details of the medical and whatever," Johnson said, "But he did get a shot before the game and the last treatment that he had where he had two weeks off, that didn't seem to work, and so we're going to kind of go with this new treatment and hopefully he'll stay healthy." The "gory details" as described by Nats Insider.com's Mark Zuckerman? The doctor told the Nats' Silver Slugger and Gold Glove-winning, three-hole hitter that it's the same sprained AC joint that's causing the discomfort and nothing more. "They found no damage to any tendons or ligaments," Mr. Zuckerman wrote Sunday evening, "Only a bone-on-bone situation that's causing the pain."
The Nats' 69-year-old skipper told reporters that Zimmerman had a "cortisone/novocaine shot," that had good results. "He seemed awful freer," Johnson said, "and I like what I saw."
"The novocaine makes the pain go away," the manager explained, "He'll be real sore tomorrow, I'm sure. In my era we grew up with those shots, but the medication is in there to get rid of all the inflammation, that's what's causing all the pain."
The inflammation in his AC joint has been bothering Zimmerman since this Spring. The right-handed hitting and throwing infielder went on the DL on April 28th (retroactive to the 21st) and returned to the lineup on May 8th. Before the rest, Zimmerman had a .224/.324/.345 line with four doubles and a home run in 15 games and 68 plate appearances. After returning from the DL, the eighth-year pro has put up a .216/.270/.290 line with six doubles and two home runs in 40 games and 174 PA's. Even as he's struggled at the plate, Zimmerman's continued to contribute strong defensive play as he did in Sunday's loss.
"He does that every day," Davey Johnson said when asked about Zimmerman's efforts in the field, "He's unbelievable over there and it would be nice if we can keep him healthy."
"The doc was here today," Zimmerman told reporters after the game as he explained the decision to have the cortisone shot, "and we just decided that's going to give me the best chance to continue to play and not have to miss any time and it's not going to do anything to further injure my shoulder or anything like that so there's no risk and it just took some of that pain and that pressure away that's been bugging me for the past however long and hopefully we won't have to do it again, but if we do it was kind of a test trial and it worked okay."
The Nats' infielder's contributed defensively in spite of the injury, but the question now is whether he'll be able produce enough offensively to play everyday and remain in the three-hole in the Nationals' lineup? He told reporters the injury might need to be dealt with down the road, but for now he plans to continue to play. Is that a good idea for the infielder long-term? Zimmerman's apparently doing everything he can to make sure he's part of what the Nationals are trying to accomplish this season. Is it what's best for the Nationals and their first 1st Round pick's future?