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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series opener with New York Mets + Davey Martinez on Ryan Zimmerman

Last April, Ryan Zimmerman was tearing the cover off the ball and off to a red-hot start. This season, Zimmerman’s making some solid contact, but he’s started slow. What does Davey Martinez see?

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s loss, Washington’s Nationals have a .210/.335/.364 line with runners in scoring position after 16 games, 13th/10th/10th in the National League. Davey Martinez’s club went 5 for 21 overall in their recently-completed four-game set with the Colorado Rockies over the weekend, dropping 3 of 4 by 5-1, 2-1, and 6-5 scores. Did Martinez notice anything in particular that his team needs to do to improve on with RISP?

“In big moments we’ve got to stay in the middle of the field,” the first-year skipper said late on Sunday afternoon.

“We did that yesterday really well, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to do. Just drive in a run. Don’t try to be a hero, just drive in a run, that’s what we’re asking for, and when you start doing that good things happen, but we’ll continue to press forward, there’s no doubt about that, and like I said, we’ll snap out of this and we’ll start winning games consistently.”

Ryan Zimmerman’s 2 for 21 (.105/.190/.368) start with runners in scoring position this season hasn’t helped, and his .122/.204/.224 line overall has fans and pundits alike questioning how the veteran first baseman approached Spring Training, taking at bats against minor league pitchers instead of playing in Grapefruit League games.

Martinez isn’t buying into the thinking that says the two are connected.

“You know what, he got his at bats,” Martinez argued.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with it. I want to say last year was the first year really he had a pretty good April, other than that, he hasn’t, so he’ll come out of it. Like I said, every day he’s hitting one or two balls hard, so he’ll start driving in some runs and getting some big hits for us.”

Zimmerman is a career .263/.328/.455 hitter in April over the course of his 14 major league seasons, whose .420/.458/.886 line in the first month last season (with eight doubles and 11 HRs) followed a .219/.301/.301 start to the 2016 campaign, and a .217/.277/.380 line in April of 2015, so maybe Martinez has a point?

What, if any advice, does Martinez have for his first baseman?

“For me it’s just keep swinging the bats,” Martinez said, “... keep being aggressive, but Zim’s been around a long time, and he’s hit, so he’s going to hit, so we tell them be aggressive in the strike zone, that’s what he needs to do.”

Will a series against the NL East-leading New York Mets spark something in the 33-year-old?

Zimmerman’s batting fourth tonight in the series opener in Citi Field, opposite righty Jacob deGrom, against whom he’s 5 for 9 (.263/.238/.579) with two home runs in 21 PAs.