Addressing any concerns about Washington Nationals' third baseman Ryan Zimmerman getting Wally Pipped by the Nats' top prospect, Anthony Rendon, Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters before Monday's game that it didn't matter how well the 22-year-old infielder performed with Zim on the DL, he wasn't going to take the incumbent third baseman's spot. The Washington Post's James Wagner quoted Johnson saying, "'I don't care if he hits .900, there's no way he's beating out Ryan Zimmerman.'" Rendon said all the right things when he met with the press before his D.C. debut last night, which saw him go 1 for 4 with an RBI double. Asked about knowing that the plan is to have him return to the minors once Zim returns, the Nats' 2011 1st Round pick responded honestly, but as you'd expect.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Rendon said, "They called me up here, so I'm just going to play wherever they tell me to play. I'm trying not to worry about it. So I've just got to take it one day at a time, so we'll see how it [plays] out." The 6th overall pick in the '11 Draft did say, however, that knowing he'll play every day while he's here makes it easier. "I guess it's a good feeling just to get out there every day," Rendon explained, "and knowing that you're going to be in the lineup and you can redeem yourself possibly the next day and when you have a day off, sometimes people can get out of rhythm, and so being in there every day kind of helps."
In an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this morning, Ryan Zimmerman said the decision to go on the DL was made so that he wouldn't be leaving the Nationals short-handed. "It's one of those things where it's a little thing," the 28-year-old infielder said, "But it's April and if there was maybe a 10-Day [DL], which unfortunately there's not, we probably would have done that. But I can't put Davey short-handed on the bench. There can't be 24 guys for 10 days."
Zimmerman said the injury was, "obviously frustrating," and added, "... the past couple years I've had some things go wrong and there's nothing I can do to not make them happen, but it's frustrating. But hopefully we'll look back in July and not even remember it and everything will be fine." The Nats' third baseman also talked about his surgically-repaired shoulder, the throwing issues he's experienced early this season and some of the chatter about his arm angle changing over the course of his career. "I've never thrown over the top," Zimmerman explained, "From anyone who's ever seen me every since I -- you can call my little league coaches, you can talk to my dad. I've always been a 3/4 arm angle."
"I can throw from down here," Zimmerman said of his sidearm/underhand tosses, "that's what everyone always talks about the slow-roll play where I throw from down here. But now -- my arm feels fine, first of all, my arm is healthy, it's strong. I continue to do my rehab process, I long-toss, I strengthen it, I do all that stuff. So my arm is fine. It's just a matter of getting my arm slot and being able to be normal again. Last year was so much over-the-top, down low, just basically duct taping things to try [to] get through the season when I had all that junk in there. And now it's cleaned out. And now it's just a matter of being able to repeat it each time."
The Nationals' '05 1st Round pick gave a scouting report on his temporary (and maybe "eventual"?) replacement too. "I'm just like you guys," Zimmerman told the hosts who'd said they were both fans of Rendon, "He's an exciting player. He's fun to watch. You can always tell when people are going to be good, because they look like they're not trying and they make it look easy. And I think you watch Anthony hit and it's almost -- not as relaxed or boring as [Adam] LaRoche, but it's borderline-- almost looks like he's asleep and then double to right-center. And he hits the ball well that way and I've always been told, anyone can pull the ball, if you can hit the ball that way, that's how you're going to hit for average, that's how you're going to drive in runs. And Anthony does a great job at that."
Defensively, Zimmerman said, "Obviously, [he's] a good defender. Played shortstop a bunch, obviously third and he's played a little bit of second I think. The bottom line is he can hit. And if you can hit, you're going to get a chance in the big leagues and I think he can be a good defender at second, third, even short if he had to. So, he's going to be a big part of this team in some capacity, obviously starting now and who knows in the near-future."
• BTW: Zimmerman was on the show in part to promote his 4th Annual "A Night at the Park" ziMS Foundation benefit event which will be hosted by 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Mr. Rouhier and take place Thursday, May 23rd at Nationals Park. Ticket info HERE.