"Sometimes down there [at third base] you get short hops and [balls with] overspin on them," Davey Johnson told reporters when asked about Ryan Zimmerman's two errors in today's 5-1 loss to the New York Mets in Citi Field. "It's not my favorite position, you know, but he's exceptional, I don't worry about Zim."
After the fielding errors today, three of Zimmerman's 13 errors this season are fielding errors. Both today came on sharp grounders, both of them hit toward him by New York Mets' outfielder Marlon Byrd. Washington's 28-year-old '05 1st Round pick and entrenched third baseman has 10 throwing errors and serious issues still to be resolved before anyone's going to be comfortable when he has time to think about it before firing a 3/4 arm slot/overhand throw to Nationals' first baseman Adam LaRoche. But the fielding issues? Are his reflexes slower than they were in the past? Almost assuredly, but still fairly sharp. Does he still make spectacular plays at the hot corner? Yes, he did in the sixth this afternoon in Citi Field after committing the two errors...
Before the misplays at third, which were admittedly well-struck but seemed to cross Zimmerman up, the Nats' Gold Glove-winning, ninth-year major leaguer hadn't committed a fielding error in 40 games, since he made one with Stephen Strasburg on the mound against the Chicago Cubs in Nationals Park...
Remember that game?
Zimmerman's errors today were the first fielding errors since that game in the nation's capital and just his fifth and sixth overall in the last 40 games after he committed seven errors, all throwing, in the first 22 games of the 2013 campaign.
Zimmerman had offseason shoulder surgery to repair damage to the AC joint in his right shoulder after receiving cortisone shots throughout the 2012 season last year so that he could stay in the lineup. With the shoulder cleaned up, Zimmerman talked during Spring Training about how he could now play a little deeper at third and rely more on his throwing rather than charging everything and making sidearm throws as he did while playing injured for a year:
"I can play a little bit deeper now," Zimmerman said, "And don't have to charge everything. Can take a step back, and -- cause I've never had a problem catching the ball, obviously catching is not the big deal -- it's just a matter of getting it over there with the shoulder and things like that, so now, being able to play a little bit deeper, take my time, not have to kind of charge everything, just take it easy and relax, I think, obviously, it's going to be a lot more beneficial for me."
"So has Zimmerman been doing that this year? Where has he been depth-wise at third?" Davey Johnson was asked after today's game. "He's a little further back than he normally is," the Nats' skipper said, "But I know a little bit about over there. That ball used to eat me up all the time when I was over there, so... it ain't easy over there."
As for the offense? Ryan Zimmerman has continued to hit in spite of the issues on defense, with a .274/.360/.469 line after going 0 for 1 with three walks this afternoon in New York. June's historically been Zimmerman's worst month, with the right-handed hitting slugger posting a .245/.306/.402 line in the third month of the season over the course of his career. Going into today's game, he had a .264/.337/.484 line on the month...
Over eight seasons in the majors Zimmerman's put up a .314/.387/.522 line in the month of July, a .314/.382/.533 line in the month of August and a career .291/.354/.475 line in the final month of the season. If he does that again and some of the throwing issues clear up will everyone have stopped talking about moving him away from third at that point? At least until next Spring?
• Dave Nichols of the District Sports Page and I talked about Ryan Zimmerman's issues and the Nats' 5-1 loss to the New York Mets today in Citi Field on today's episode of Nats Nightly: