Going into his rehab assignment, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said that he wanted Ryan Zimmerman, who’s been out of the lineup since July 21st with complications from plantar fasciitis, to get a workload similar to what he’d get in Spring Training, somewhere around 25 at bats.
“We’ve got to build him up,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman this week, after Zimmerman got a couple games in. “I talked to him yesterday. It’s going well and he feels good. But we’ve got to try to get him as many at-bats as we can and then we’ll move forward. But the whole thing is to get him back, get him healthy, and keep him here for the remainder of the season.”
Zimmerman missed time with the issue earlier this season, between April and June, but he felt good when he returned to the lineup in late June, going 13 for 43 (.302/.326/.419) with five doubles in eleven games before he suffered a partial plantar fascia rupture running to first base in Atlanta a few weeks later.
“The last three or four days or so have been the best it’s felt,” Zimmerman said at the time, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“It kind of started to — not turn a corner where its completely gone, but definitely feel like I can be a little bit more athletic and do some things. But, yeah, it’s frustrating. Been feeling better at the plate and been starting to get back into it a little bit, and then for it to act up again -- we’ll see what it says tomorrow and go from there.”
GM Mike Rizzo explained a few days later, that a rupture could actually be a good thing for what is a lingering and painful injury.
“It’s almost a complete rupture of it,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN’s Sports Junkies in a July 24th interview, “... which is almost a good thing because it’s something that could free him up to where it’s a pain tolerance type of thing right now and he’s working through it.”
“They’re kind of better when they fully rupture because it takes the pain, then it’s just a pain tolerance thing. It’s not something that can hinder your performance.”
A month later, Zimmerman returned to live action at Double-A Harrisburg, going 1 for 4 with a walk in his first two games with the Senators, before his rehab shifted to the Nats’ High-A Potomac affiliate, where the 34-year-old veteran went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk on Tuesday night.
Rizzo talked about Zimmerman again on Wednesday morning, telling the Sports Junkies that they were going to take their time getting him back up to the majors this time around.
“We need for him to get his at bats, we need for him to move around and play nine innings in his rehab stint, you know,” Rizzo said. “I think that the fact that [Matt] Adams and [Howie] Kendrick are playing well at first base right now gives us the opportunity to really let Zim get some at bats in the minor league rehab before he comes to the big league club.
“Recently, when he’s come off the DL, we kind of get him to the big leagues as soon as we can and he really figures it out at the big league level, which is often problematic. Zim’s swing is very complicated, it’s a very timing-mechanism swing, and the more at bats he gets down there, when he comes back he can really hit the ground running. But he gives us a great option from the right side. He’s a good defender at first base, so there’s ample opportunities to utilize him in the lineup. It just makes our club much more deeper, much more dangerous, you’ve got yourself a prototypical run-producer back on the roster and it just adds to the good chemistry and the depth of this lineup, which is probably as deep as we ever had since we’ve been around here.”