WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 31: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals celebrates as he rounds third base after hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on August 31, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
On June 23, 2012 Ryan Zimmerman had a .218/.285/.305 line and inflammation in the AC joint of his right shoulder that was clearly affecting his swing. The 27-year-old '05 1st Round pick made the decision to have another cortisone shot in his shoulder on June 24th, and he told reporters he felt almost immediate relief. Since that day, the Washington Nationals' third baseman has put up a .340/.407/.594 line with 20 doubles and 14 HRs in 61 games and 275 plate appearances, including the double and home run he hit last night in the Nats' 10-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. 61 games after Zimmerman decided to have the cortisone shot so he could get through the season, the Nats' first 1st Round pick has a .285/.350/.457 slash which is more in line with what fans in the nation's capital have come to expect from the eight year veteran who has a .288/.354/.476 line so far in his career.
The difference this season, with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper in the headlines more, Gio Gonzalez's personality winning everyone over and Jayson Werth emerging as the veteran leader D.C. GM Mike Rizzo promised when he was signed, is that Zimmerman's perfomed somewhat under the radar, quietly going about his business, making often spectacular plays at third base and occasionally sailing an awkward overhand throw to first base. The normally quiet, reluctant star likely prefers being the behind-the-scenes face of the franchise with Strasburg and Harper the more upfront faces of a new generation of Nationals. While Zimmerman's only 27, he feels like part of the old guard, the stalwart defender and three-hole hitter who weathered the bad days and is now getting to enjoy baseball's revival in the nation's capital.
"'We have a long ways to go and we haven’t done anything yet,'" Zimmerman told reporters including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak last night, "'But what we have done is give this city a baseball team to cheer for. And they’ve wanted that for a long time.'"
While they haven't "done anything" yet, the Nationals did match last season's win total with the victory over the Cardinals Friday night. Tonight at 6:30 pm EDT, after the Nats and Cards play the third game of their four-game series in the nation's capital in a game that's going to be featured on FOX's nationwide broadcast, Zimmerman will be featured on a new MLB Network show called, "My MLB Life", which is described in a press release as, "a lifestyle-focused documentary," on four MLB players who exemplify the show's, "... theme of 'work hard, live well, give back.'"
Asked during the show about the possibility of bringing postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933 if the Nationals can hold on and make their lead in the NL East hold up, the Nats' third baseman says that it would be especially important for him since he's been here from the start:
"When we ultimately do reach the playoffs and win a World Series, I think it’ll make it that much sweeter because I’ve kind of been through both ends of the spectrum, being the worst and being the best."
For everyone who's followed the Nats from the beginning in 2005 and for those getting to know the Nationals now, it looks like everyone will get a rare look at one of the quieter major league stars and one of the leaders of a team that's about to get national exposure unlike anything Washington, D.C.'s seen since the team was called the Senators and FDR was in the White House. 6:30 pm EDT on the MLB Network. Set your DVRs in case the game isn't over or catch it on Sunday at 12:30 pm EDT when the MLB Network replays it.
• Zimmerman on MLB (preview):