Davey Martinez said he and Washington Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman talked about the plans for working the 34-year-old, 15-year veteran back into the lineup now that he was available again after missing 91 games total between two stints on the Injured List this season, as he’d tried to deal with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
“He understands that we have other guys that are having unbelievable years, and he gets it,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “He just wants to part of it, and I want him to be part of it. As we all know, if Zim gets hot ... man, he can carry us for this next month.”
Zimmerman, who described this season as one of, in not the most frustrating of his career, said the same, as far as getting back into the lineup and contributing however he can.
“You always want to be a part of it,” Zimmerman told reporters once he came off the IL.
“You want to be in there, and it’s definitely if not the most frustrating year, it’s up there,” he said, before starting at first in his return to the lineup on Sunday.
Zimmerman went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk in the Nationals’ 9-3 win over Miami’s Marlins.
“To have Zim come in and hit that big home run for us,” Martinez said of the two-run blast to left that put the Nationals up 6-3 in what had been a close one-run game with the Fish, “that really electrified everybody. He worked diligently to get back. He’s back. Like I said, we joked with him about being a September call-up, and here he is, and he contributes. That’s what it’s going to take to finish what we started and let’s keep going.”
Zimmerman hit sixth in Sunday’s lineup, but the second-year skipper said if he picks it up as things go along, and eventually moves closer to the middle of the Nats’ order, he could be a big bat that will make the lineup even more imposing.
“Here’s a guy that hits 30, drives in 100,” the manager explained.
“We get a guy back now in that pivotal point where if he can get hot in that five-hole, he can carry us. Even in the six-hole, but in the middle of the lineup, he can really help us, and like I said, lengthen our lineup a little bit and keep it going.”
Zimmerman lengthens the lineup when he’s in there, and since Martinez was clear that he’s not planning to start the veteran every day right now, he also gives the Nats another bat on the bench that can contribute when he’s not starting.
“When I can look down there and see guys like those guys who’ve got 1,000+ hits in the big leagues and just sitting there biting at the bit to get an at bat, it’s pretty good. And even the days that Zim doesn’t play, [you have] another guy that comes off the bench that could help us in that aspect as well,” Martinez said.
“So at any given moment, the biggest thing — and it’s a good problem to have for me — is getting these guys in there and finding ways to put them in there, and so far it’s worked out.
“They’re all getting a chance to play, which I’ve said all along that if we’re going to pull this off, 25 guys on the active roster need to contribute, and they’ve done that.”
But they’ll have to keep Zimmerman healthy if he’s going to contribute down the stretch, which is something the manager has stressed to his first baseman.
“We talked about that — some of the ground balls... but when you get in the game, you forget everything, and you just want to play and you want to play hard, and he’s that guy. He runs every ground ball out hard, but I have to tell him, ‘Hey, you’re not 22 or 23, so you may have to just push back a little bit and just do smart things and not try to play 100 MPH every single pitch and every single at bat, because we need you on the field.”