Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo addressed questions about the Nats' plans for Ryan Zimmerman when he returned from the DL in a late May interview with 106.7 the FAN In D.C's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
"We all know that he's a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman," Rizzo said. "He's taken balls at first base. He's taken fly balls in the outfield. He's a guy who can play anywhere and more importantly is willing to do anything."
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported that "league sources" were telling him the Nats' plan was for Zimmerman, "to rotate among third base, first base and left field once he returns from the disabled list, perhaps lining him [up] to be that rare multi-positional star."
The talk of left field was new, but the Nationals were open about wanting Zimmerman to get work in at first from the start of the season.
The Nats' '05 1st Round pick worked out at first base this spring in anticipation of potentially spelling Adam LaRoche against particularly tough lefties, but the talk of left field didn't really come up until after the third baseman injured his right thumb early this season diving headfirst back into second base on a pickoff play in Atlanta, GA's Turner Field.
As Zimmerman rehabbed the fractured thumb he began to work out in left field.
Though they played it down at first as a way for the 29-year-old infielder to get work in while he couldn't field grounders at third, eventually the Nats conceded that Zimmerman could see time in left field while Bryce Harper remained sidelined, though Nationals' skipper Matt Williams has reiterated recently that Zimmerman will eventually move back to third once Harper returns.
Zimmerman has played left field exclusively upon returning to the lineup, but before yesterday's game with the St. Louis Cardinals, Williams told reporters that with veteran lefty Jaime Garcia scheduled to pitch for the Cards in the series finale, there was a possibility that Zimmerman might make his major league debut at first.
As The Washington Post's James Wagner reported, Williams said he was confident that Zimmerman, who has continued to take grounders at first base, could play the position without any issues.
"'He’s been doing some work,'" Williams said. "'He’s fine. The infield is second nature for him. It’s not anything big.'"
Zimmerman is just 2 for 10 career vs Garcia. LaRoche is 1 for 8. LaRoche struggled against left-handed pitching last season to the tune of a .198/.254/.313 line, but he's hit southpaws well so far this season with a .282./404/.359 line through 47 plate appearances. The 34-year-old infielder has, however, played in every game since he returned from his own DL stint, so Williams said yesterday he could use a day of rest.
• Here's the lineup for the series finale in St. Louis:
Lineup change for the #Nats: Rendon 3B, McLouth CF, Werth RF, Zimmerman 1B, Hairston LF, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Leon C, Fister RHP— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 15, 2014