Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez joked earlier this week that it would be a victory of sorts if Ryan Zimmerman appeared in a game in February, with the veteran infielder’s distaste for all things Spring Training well-established at this point in his career.
Zimmerman’s appearance in last night’s game was actually his first in the month of February since back in 2014, when he snuck one game in on the 28th. Will he get two in this year with the extra day in the leap year?
If he does it would be the first time he played twice in February since the ‘09 season.
Martinez said told reporters, including MASN’s Pete Kerzel, before yesterday’s game that it did really catch him by surprise when Zimmerman said he was ready to go in Grapefruit League action.
“I was scratching my head about it, but I talked to him and he said he’d like to play today, which is nice. We’ll see three innings and hopefully get him two at-bats.”
While he didn’t appear in any games before last night, Martinez said Zimmerman has been getting his work in behind the scenes in West Palm Beach.
“He’s been taking a lot of ground balls on his own. We’ve had him on the back fields,” Martinez said.
“Taking a lot of swings. But he feels like he’s ready. He looks great. He really does. ... He looks thinner, but in really good shape.”
The throwing woes he’s experienced in recent years once again reared their ugly head in the first inning last night, however, with the 35-year-old first baseman bouncing a throw to second that got by Wilmer Difo and let one run score on what could have been an inning-ending double play, and a second run came in on a flare to right field off starter Max Scherzer as the Houston Astros took a 2-0 lead after the opening frame was extended.
At the plate, Zimmerman sent a productive fly to center field in his first at bat of the Spring, advancing a runner with a line drive on a well-struck ball, and he grounded out to second base for the final out of the third, leaving him 0 for 2 on the night.
That was it for Zimmerman’s 2020 Grapefruit League debut.
“He had good at-bats,” Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato, after what ended up a 5-5 tie with the ‘Stros. “He said he felt really good.”
And the unsightly throwing error?
“For me, he just kind of didn’t throw through it,” Martinez said, while noting that Difo has to stop the ball from getting by second base.
“[Zimmerman] kind of let up a little bit. It happens.”
Hopefully Zimmerman’s errors are first this season are as rare as early Spring appearances by the 35-year-old, 15-year veteran.