Before Tuesday night's game, Washington Nationals' Manager Matt Williams told reporters that ailing third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went through a pregame throwing session on the field and felt no pain in the right shoulder which has kept him out of the lineup since Saturday. Williams said then the chances were good that Zimmerman could return to action in the second game of three with the Miami Marlins. "If he comes in tomorrow and feels good," Williams told reporters, "then I'm going to put him in there. We need him to play third for us."
In an MLB Network Radio interview this morning he said he expected to pencil Zimmerman's name in on tonight's lineup card. "I expect him back in the lineup tonight," Williams reiterated, "but we're working on some things that will allow him to play every day and not experience that pain." Zimmerman passed one last test this afternoon and when tonight's lineup was announced, the 29-year-old third baseman was listed in the five hole:
#Nats lineup vs. #Marlins: Span CF, Rendon 2B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman 3B, Desmond SS, Harper LF, Lobaton C, Zimmermann P— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 9, 2014
Williams watched Zimmerman work out today and told reporters afterwards that the Nats' '05 1st Round pick felt no pain after throwing across and around the infield. "He reported no pain," Williams said, "so, we waited until we got done with that to post the lineup, but he feels fine, so he's going to be in there tonight."
Though Zimmerman reportedly took his time loading up and took a few hop-steps before throwing this afternoon, the Nats' skipper said it was more about the practice environment than any issue adjusting to the 3/4 arm slot Zimmerman plans to use to reduce the pain he has when throwing with a more over-the-top motion.
"It's a controlled environment," Williams explained. "So, again, it's about momentum and it's about getting the proper arm angle so he doesn't feel any pinch or any pain in there. That's controlled. When the game speeds up, his feet will speed up too. So I don't have concern. Again, a ball down the line with a speed guy is tough for anybody. Especially if he's got to go deep down that line. So, that's nothing out of the norm from any given day, so controlled environment, we were just working on rhythm and arm angle and following through and those types of things to make sure he was good."
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Zimmerman, according to Williams, has already adjusted to and feels comfortable with the new 3/4 arm slot.
"It looked fine. He feels comfortable with that arm angle. Certainly it takes pressure off his shoulder and he doesn't feel it when he does that, which is a positive sign, so he's good."
Zimmerman made around 25 throws in today's according to Williams, working out long enough to make sure there were no issues. The change of arm slot, the Nats' skipper said, is, "not that big of a change."
"I think more is made of it than needs to be," Williams said. "Because on any given play he does it. If he goes to his left he's kind of there already. The question is, on the normal grounder that's just hit right at him, feeling that he can get a little bit lower so he doesn't feel it as much. Again, we want him to play every day, so anything to take away from that irritation will help. Now if he feels good in the next week and feels fantastic getting on top again, that's great. It's his comfort level and he'll dictate that from here on out.
"The good sign is that a couple of days off and he feels good, so that's a positive sign for all of us."