The two big takeaways from today’s pregame chat with Ryan Zimmerman: Zim could be back in the Washington Nationals’ lineup as soon as next Friday night, after getting some rehab starts during the All-Star Break, and he has no idea where those calf injury rumors originated.
Fancred’s Jon Heyman stirred the nation’s capital up on Thursday afternoon with a long-ish paragraph in his baseball notes column in which he wrote that Washington’s 33-year-old first baseman, “... appears ready to start a rehab assignment soon for his calf and oblique injuries.”
Calf and oblique?
We all knew about the oblique. Earlier this month, Davey Martinez was asked if it’s just been an oblique issue all along for Zimmerman and he confirmed that that was the case.
“Yeah, it has always been his oblique,” Martinez explained. “Those things could linger for a while, and just want to make sure he’s right this time. We haven’t had him fully healthy yet all year, so we want to make sure he’s healthy and ready to go for the second half.”
“According to an N.L. executive, there was a calf injury in spring,” Heyman wrote though, adding that there was, “... also a recurrence recently (though, the Nats continue to call it only an oblique).”
And the “grand experiment” as Heyman described it, to let Zimmerman take his at bats in minor league games on the back fields during this past Spring Training?
“[T]he reality,” Heyman wrote, “... is that Zimmerman missed almost all Spring Training with a calf injury.”
Then Zimmerman started the season, according to this telling of events, and he suffered the oblique injury, but “... it turns out that when he tried to ramp things up at one point, the calf acted up again – yes, the calf injury no one seemed to know about.”
So, Zimmerman’s take on all this?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have social media so I’m not up into this stuff, but do I have soreness sometimes, yes, of course, am I injured, absolutely not. Same thing with Spring Training, was I injured, absolutely not. Was I sore? Yes. Did we take it easy? Yeah. Were we smart? Yeah. So I wish I had something for you. But I don’t, I don’t know.”
Here’s how Zimmerman described (at length) what went on in Spring Training:
“You know in Spring Training everyone talked about calves and all that stuff, and I had soreness, like I told you guys I had soreness, in Spring I had calf soreness, along with other soreness, and we were safe with it. I think we did the ultrasound to make sure nothing was hurt and it wasn’t, so we took our time, and because we took our time, like I’ve told you before, we didn’t have enough time for me to get at bats, so that was the reason why I was going to the back fields. I wasn’t running on the back fields because we had done so much to get me to that point, with only a week left before Opening Day, to put me into a game and say, ‘Alright, just take it easy,’ that doesn’t usually work. If I hit a ball into left-center, if somebody gets a single to right I’m going try to go first-to-third, so instead of doing that and risking that after all the work we had done to get me ready for Opening Day, we just got the at bats on the back fields and felt like I was ready to go.
“The calf stuff with this, I don’t know where it’s coming from. You know the oblique is taking longer than we thought I think. When it first happened we thought it would be a little bit quicker. I think because it’s taken so long — running at first was like it bothered the oblique, so I couldn’t run, so when you go that long without running, with the history that I’ve had with hamstrings and calves and pretty much ‘lower body injury’ if you want to go hockey-stye with it, basically in 13 years, we’ve just been careful with it, we’ve been safe with it. I’m starting to ramp up my running now, if everything continues to go well in the next couple days I’m going to go play during the break and be ready for Friday after the break.”
“He actually is feeling pretty good,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before the start of the four-game series in Citi Field.
“He hasn’t been out on a rehab assignment,” Martinez explained, “because everybody else was at the All-Star Break, so for me getting him back and getting him going, hopefully next Friday he’s back with the big league ballclub and playing.”
What would Zimmerman’s return mean to the lineup?
“It means a lot to our lineup for sure,” Martinez said. “He gives us more length in our lineup.
“You’re talking about a guy where you miss 80-100 RBIs. That’s a lot. So getting him back for the second half would be awesome and I’m looking forward to having him back.”
Zimmerman said he was itching to get back out there as well, and would be even if the Nats weren’t struggling like they have in the “first-half” of the 2018 campaign.
“It’s frustrating if we went 20-0 in the last twenty games and I can’t play,” Zimmerman said.
“It would be frustrating. We’re here because we like to compete, we like to be out there, so yeah, being hurt it’s always frustrating, I think. Last year being able to play the whole year and do what I know I’m capable of doing compared to the years before, to finally have that and this year to have something like that happen again, it’s tough, but you’ve got to stay positive. As bad as we’ve played and as many injuries as we’ve had, we’re not out of it.
“So, I think you’ve got to look at the positive. Hopefully we can finish strong.
“Obviously there’s no such thing as an easy team or an easy win at this level, I think people mistake that a lot, so we’re going to have to come out here and play four good games, and the goal is just to win a series and get into the Break and then come out of the Break, and hopefully have myself back, [Matt] Wieters came back, hopefully get [Stephen Strasburg] back soon, but that’s the thing, we’re at where we’re at and the 25 guys we’ve got are the 25 guys we’ve got and we’ve got to find a way to win games and get back where we need to be and hopefully after the break I can be a part of that and kind of go forward from there.”