Have the reports of Ryan Zimmerman’s demise been exaggerated? Injuries (shoulder, plantar fasciitis) and time have taken their toll on the Washington Nationals’ 2005 1st Round pick. He struggled to a career-worst .218/.272/.370 line last season, hitting 18 doubles and 15 home runs over 115 games and 467 plate appearances in a -1.3 fWAR season in 2016, raising some doubts about the future of the Nats’ first baseman, who has three years and $48M left on the 6-year/$100M extension he signed in 2012, as well as a $20M club option for 2020 (and a personal services contract worth $10M over five years once his playing days end).
His Grapefruit League numbers provided some reason for hope (though they are, you know, Grapefruit League numbers).
Over 23 games this Spring, the 32-year-old infielder was 16 for 53 (.302/.413/.491) with four doubles, two home runs, 10 walks and 11 Ks.
“Zim has been swinging a pretty good bat,” Dusty Baker told reporters after penciling the first baseman in the fifth spot in his lineup on Opening Day.
Zimmerman went 2 for 4 in the season opener. He followed that up with a 1 for 3 night in the second of three with Miami, walking once and homering off Marlins’ starter Dan Straily, hitting an opposite field blast in the 6-4 win.
“I’ve been talking about it since Spring Training,” Baker said after the win.
“He’s healthy. He feels good. You see his confidence growing daily. He hit a tough pitch out to right field. That’s a good sign, especially this early in the year when that balls is not flying out there too much until it warms up.
“Anything that he gives us is a big bonus, especially in the middle of that lineup. He’s getting better every day.”
Zimmerman homered again in last night’s loss, going 2 for 5 with a double and the HR to leave him 5 for 12 in the first three games of the season.
While it’s too early for “Zim is back” headlines, it’s a nice start to his 13th season in the majors.
He’s in the lineup again in this afternoon’s series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park.
Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for today’s game (And Hmmm, still Trea Turner and Adam Eaton up top vs a team with left-handed relievers):