Since making his MLB debut in the same year he was drafted back in 2005, Ryan Zimmerman, the Washington Nationals' first 1st Round Draft pick, has been compared to one of the region's baseball legends, Baltimore Orioles' third baseman Brooks Robinson, but it was perhaps thee face of Orioles baseball that the Nationals' Face of the Franchise talked to on Friday when he joined Billy and Cal Ripken on the brother's Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio's Ripken Baseball to talk about the success the Nationals have had so far this season. What follows are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Billy Ripken: Would you rather save a game in the field or would you rather hit the game-winning homer, because some outfielders say they'd rather rob a homer than hit one, I don't know if that's true or not?
Ryan Zimmerman: "They might be lying a little, I don't know, hitting a HR's pretty cool..."
Billy Ripken: "Speaking about your third base play, I saw you dive to your left and then you forced the guy to second base the other day, and you pushed yourself up and you threw an underhand "fish" like an old Graig Nettles "fish" over to first base...What I want to get into is, a lot of third baseman for some reason develop a flip across the diamond, not necessarily to save the arm, but sometimes because the timing of the first baseman isn't there and you get the ball so quickly, how is it that you developed your "fish" over the years, and how did you, who did you model it after?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "Well, I think you saying the first baseman takes a little time to get over there is the perfect reason for it, I think some people don't feel comfortable trying to hold on to the ball for a long time and then trying to throw it 100mph across the diamond, I think when you catch the ball you want to get rid of it, that's just your instinct...you know you have your timing where you catch it, you take a step and get rid of it, and if you did that and threw a bullet across the infield, sometimes, like you said, the first baseman wouldn't be there, so you gotta kind of develop some sort of throw, I guess you can call it "the fish" or the "Nettles" or whoever you want to model it after that kinda floats over there and gives the first baseman some time to get to the bag and adjust to it and make the catch, but, I don't know if I modeled it after [anyone] I think everyone's different, you just gotta find out what's comfortable and feels good for you and go from there."
Billy Ripken: "Now, you talk about the first baseman, you got the 'Big Donkey' over there, and you hit some HR's, but is there anybody in this game that, I guess "raw power" comes in to mind, when you watch him on the field either at batting practice or in a game when he gets into one, does he have as much raw power as anyone in this game?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "Yeah, it's uh, it's pretty ridiculous, when you talk about 'country strong' I guess that's the definition of it right there. But, it's funny, we joke around because whenever I'm struggling or he's struggling or whatever, all he has to do is touch it, he doesn't have to swing hard, we're like, 'Dude, just touch it, just put the barrel on,' and it's going to go 400ft. But the thing that a lot of people don't realize about him is he's a very good hitter too. Last night, in the first at bat against Hudson they had the shift on and he takes a sinker and punches it through the six hole, and then, I think it was his third at bat when he went deep, but then [Hudson] tried to throw the front-door sinker to him and he hits it out to right field, so, he's a very talented player, but yeah, pure strength, I think he might have it in the big leagues."
Billy Ripken: " ...you know right now we're talking about the Nationals after the start and we're saying, you know what they're playing pretty good baseball, is there any one thing that jumps out at you guys that's different from last year on how you guys are going about your business and playing these games?"
Ryan Zimmerman: "Well, I mean we had a good offense last year, and I think for the most part our offense is the same this year, the lineups a little bit deep when you add Pudge [Rodriguez] and a guy like Adam Kennedy that just, he can hit second, sixth, seventh...I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is that we're playing better defense, and you know, our pitchers did well last year, but when you have to get more than twenty-seven outs in a game every single time it's tough, and when you're giving these guys on the other team extra outs, you know, those are big league hitters, if you give them more chances than your supposed to their gonna succeed a lot, so it's a lot better defense and the back end of our bullpen has been rock-solid this year, I think with [Tyler] Clippard, he's been unbeleiveable in the seventh or eighth inning and then obviously [Matt] Capps has come in in the ninth and come through in every save situation, so the defense and I think the backend of the bullpen has been a big success for us."
(to be cont.)...