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Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman makes 2016 Grapefruit League debut this afternoon

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Ryan Zimmerman is penciled is as the DH and clean-up hitter as the Washington Nationals take on the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon in Grapefruit League action. It's Zimmerman's 2016 debut after he struggled with injury issues last season.

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Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell took a tough love approach to the Washington Nationals' injury issues last week, recommending changes necessary to keep aging and oft-injured position players Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman and even younger ones like Anthony Rendon, who has dealt with injury issues since his college days, on the field for the full season in 2016.

Zimmerman, now 31,  has given the franchise everything he has over his 11 major league seasons, Boswell wrote, "But it’s got to stop.":

"If he cares about his teammates, and the millions he’s being paid, he’ll spend this season working on a scary attitude adjustment: Cut back on acrobatic athletic plays or running the bases aggressively. Don’t do everything you can; just do what you should. That transition is genuinely hard. Some never make it. And their rapid tailspin past age 30 is often the result."

"'I know I have to make changes,'" Zimmerman told the WaPost reporter. "'But it’s hard. You learn to play one way — all out, every day — your whole life. And you’re proud of it.'"

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning about Zimmerman's continuing issues with plantar fasciitis, which the Nationals and the third-turned-first baseman are managing carefully this Spring.

Zimmerman is set to make his Grapefruit League debut this afternoon as the Nationals' DH, but, Rosenthal writes, his foot, "... is no small concern."

"His health could determine whether the Nats look for a first-base/outfield type or even a middle infielder before Opening Day."

If Zimmerman is unavailable for Opening Day, Rosenthal notes, they Nats could move Daniel Murphy to first and play Trea Turner at second, but ideally, of course, Zimmerman is in the lineup and no moves are necessary.

Zimmerman, as he has all winter, insists that he's healthy, as he did again in an MLB Network Radio interview this past Thursday.

"Everything feels good," he told hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette.

"Taking it easy this Spring, easing into it and good plan going forward to manage the stuff the last year or two that's kind of hampered me and I'm excited about it, honestly."

While his absence to this point has been a cause of concern for some, it's not for Zimmerman, who is steadfast in his belief that it doesn't take him too long to get his timing down. So how many at bats does he need?

"I'm like a 40-50 at the most," he said. "I always joke and say, 'You're just wasting hits down here.'"