As the nation's capital waited for word on whether or not 29-year-old Washington Nationals' "Face of the Franchise" Ryan Zimmerman would return from the DL for tonight's series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies, dark clouds rolled in toward the Navy Yard, darkening the green outfield grass in Nationals Park.
The grounds crew stood at the ready with the tarp rolled out from foul territory near first base out to just beyond second and into center field, but not yet stretched across the entire infield.
Moments later, with rain clouds crawling slowly past the Capitol dome, the grounds crew waited to see if the storm would roll towards the park.
The big question, aside from the storm's path, and since it was assumed that Zimmerman would be back tonight, was where he would play?
The Nationals' third baseman from the end of 2005-present played three games in left for the Potomac Nationals as he rehabbed from the fractured thumb suffered on April 12th which landed him on the DL, but the last word from Nats' GM Mike Rizzo a week or more back, was that he still considered Zimmerman a third baseman, though the Nats were keeping their options open.
"We all know that he's a Gold Glove-caliber third baseman," Rizzo explained in an MLB Network Radio interview last week. "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 and play anywhere and do anything he has to do to help us win games and that's a huge statement from a veteran play with the caliber of Ryan Zimmerman."
Zimmerman conceded that his future might be at a position other than third base when he talked to the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell last week, telling the veteran columist that he accepted that his time as the everyday third baseman in D.C. may have ended.
At 1:45 pm EDT, the grounds crew in Nationals Park pulled the tarp across the field, stretching the white cover over the infield dirt and grass as the rain made its way down Half St., wetting the pavement and soaking the statues in the plaza in front of the Center Field Gate.
A half hour later the rain was still falling as tonight's starter, Jordan Zimmermann, loosened up in the outfield, getting his long toss in as he prepared for tonight's outing.
At 2:23 PM EDT, the Nationals made the official announcement that Ryan Zimmerman (no relation, one less "n") was being reinstated from the DL:
The #Nats have reinstated Ryan Zimmerman from the 15-day DL and optioned INF/OF Tyler Moore to Triple-A Syracuse: http://t.co/9zHqrIvHdK— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 3, 2014
A few minutes later, the Nationals made the big announcement. Zimmerman will play left tonight in his first game back:
#Nats lineup vs. #Phillies: Span CF, Rendon 3B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman LF, Ramos C, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Zimmermann P— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 3, 2014
A few minutes after that announcement was made, the grounds crew made their way back onto the field and began preparing to lift the tarp...