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Washington Nationals vs Houston Astros: Grapefruit League GameThread...

Washington and Houston play in their shared Spring home at 1:05 PM EST this afternoon in a matchup that’s available on ESPN+ and

New York Yankees v Houston Astros Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Ryan Zimmerman played in just one Grapefruit League game last Spring, but after an injury-filled 2018 campaign, the Washington Nationals and the first baseman came into camp this time around with a plan to get at bats and defensive reps in actual games rather than on the back fields in West Palm Beach.

“We talked about how many at bats that he feels he needs, and he said right around 50, and so we’ll just go by that and we’ll see how that plays out,” Martinez explained.

“The biggest thing for me is lateral movement on defense,” the manager added. ‘He just needs to be out there and play defense and move laterally and do all the things that we need him to do to play defense.”

Zimmerman said he was on board with the plan, acknowledging that he needed to get his work in which expressing his thoughts on the value of playing in Spring games.

“There’s no reason to come out and play 20 nine-inning games down here,” Zimmerman told reporters last week, as quoted by’s Jamal Collier.

“That’s detrimental. I don’t think that helps anybody. But to be able to go through the whole process, start the game, get out there, even if it’s only four to five innings. You’re on your feet, getting your legs and your body ready for every pitch, running to first base when there’s ground balls. Yeah, I think that makes a difference.”

Martinez also talked about how he plans to get the most he can out of the 34-year-old, 14-year veteran.

“By keeping him healthy,” the manager said. “We might have to give him days off, day after night. Just keeping an eye on him. I told him, I said the biggest thing with him, he’s really got to be honest with me. We want to keep him on the field. As you know, we’re really good with him on the field. We’re going to monitor him and try to keep him on as much as possible. Does that mean maybe giving him one or two days off a week? Maybe. But we’ll have to play it by ear and see how he feels.”

Zimmerman was set to start his first game of the Spring today, but when the lineup came out, he wasn’t listed.

Reporters in West Palm Beach guessed that the forecast of rain this afternoon might have something to do with his absence, and subsequent news out of the Nats’ Spring Training facility is that Zimmerman is dealing with the effects of a cold and was sent home by the Nationals’ manager...