Ryan Zimmerman missed 55 games dealing with plantar fasciitis between late April and early June, so the Washington Nationals’ first baseman was stuck on 999 career RBIs for quite a while. He picked up No. 999 on April 21st, but didn’t get his 1,000th until he hit a double to left to drive in a run in the seventh inning of last night’s 7-4 extra innings loss.
Zimmerman went 3 for 6 with three doubles in the series opener against Kansas City’s Royals, driving in runs in the seventh and ninth, and he’s now 7 for 21 (.333 AVG) since coming off the Injured List on June 28th.
“The last couple days I’ve been starting to feel a lot better at the plate, and not that I was feeling bad when I first came up, but it usually takes a few games to get into rhythm, so I have been really happy with the at bats I’ve had,” Zimmerman said after the game.
“He’s actually starting to swing the bat really well,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters.
“The thing with Zim,” he added, “when he starts hitting the ball the other way like he did in his first at bat, you could tell that he’s starting to get locked in, then he pulls a couple balls down the line, but he’s starting to get going a little bit.”
While the three-hit game and recent run are positives, Zimmerman wasn’t happy that he failed to come up with a hit that could have won the game.
With runners on first and third and one out in the 10th, after the Nationals rallied in the ninth to tie it up, Zimmerman popped out to short on a 2-0 slider from reliever Brian Flynn for out No. 2 and the Nats came up empty before the Royals scored three in the top of the 11th and took the series opener.
“Obviously frustrated with the at bat where guys were at first and third, and that’s — I take pride in driving those runs in and it stinks that I couldn’t get it done right there, but a good night for the team, battled back like we’ve been doing all year, but tough loss and we’ll wipe it out and come back and try to win tomorrow,” Zimmerman said.
Asked for his thoughts on that 1,000th RBI, Zimmerman told reporters he was, of course, happy with the accomplishment.
“Obviously a pretty cool milestone to get,” the 34-year-old, 15-year veteran said. “I think I’m lucky enough to have played for a long time, and really lucky to play for the same team, and to be able to have all those here with this uniform on is just special to me and something I never really thought about. When I came up I was more of a defensive player, so to get that many RBIs is obviously a big career mark for me, but it would have been better to get it in a win. But the team fought tonight.
“It was a great game back and forth, but yeah, a pretty cool accomplishment.”
Zimmerman was noticeably limping around the basepaths when he scored the tying run in the ninth, and both he and his manager acknowledged the issues he’s dealing with as he’s tried to get back into the swing of things and contribute to the surge that’s put the team in the race for a postseason spot after a disappointing start to the 2019 campaign.
“He ran around a lot today, but noticeably when he went to try to score you could see it,” Martinez said.
“I think obviously I’m going to play games and [when I] play games where I have to run as much as I did it’s going to get sore,” Zimmerman said, “but I think that’s kind of what happened on rehab games, and then we treat it and do what we do every night and it gets back to basically ground zero and we go from there, so I’m not going to play every single day. I think there was no surprise coming back. [Matt Adams] and Howie [Kendrick] are having great years, and they’re going to get at bats as well, so the plan was not for me to come back and play every single day, so when I have games like this we’ll treat it and see how it feels tomorrow and kind of go from there.”