Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams was asked last night if the Nats planned to bring 24-year-old infielder Zach Walters up from Triple-A Syracuse after learning that Ryan Zimmerman suffered a fractured right thumb on a pickoff play at second base in the Nationals' loss to the Atlanta Braves in Turner Field.
"We don't know yet," he said. "We'll have to make that decision tonight."
This morning, the Nationals made the official announcement. With Zimmerman expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury, Walters was called up to the majors:
Through nine games with the Nationals' top affiliate this year, Walters, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a July 2011 deal that sent RHP Jason Marquis to the D-Backs, was 9 for 31 (.290/.303/.452) with three doubles and a triple in 33 plate appearances.
Walters hit a Triple-A International League high 29 home runs in 2012, putting up a .253/.286/.517 line in 134 games and 521 PAs.
Before he was optioned to Syracuse this spring, the switch-hitting infielder posted a .379/.455/.621 line with the Nationals, hitting two doubles, a triple and a home run in 15 games and 33 Grapefruit League PAs.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters this spring that after a breakout power campaign in 2013, he wanted to see Walters hit for average this season.
"I think his stroke is his stroke," Williams said. "It's very difficult to change a tiger's stripes. He has power from both sides of the plate. I think that the maturation process is such that as he goes within his career, he'll learn that home runs come and you can't force them. You can't stand up there and say, 'I'm a power guy and this is what I do,' and get away from your game, whatever it is. So, I would like to see him eventually become a .300 hitter with power. That's what I'd like to see."
"What that means to me," Williams explained, "is that in the situations where he can turn on the baseball, or is ahead in the count, or he knows what's coming or whatever it is, he can go ahead and let her fly, but there are also times when he's going to just have to drive a run in or he can easy hit a single up the middle. That will make his average go up, actually his RBIs go up and he'll maintain the same power."
Walters will now get a chance to show his manager what he can do at the major league level. He made his major league debut last September, going 3 for 8 after he was called up by the Nationals. He'll join the Nats in Atlanta for the series finale with the Braves.