Ryan Zimmerman had a runner in scoring position on second the first time he stepped up in the season finale last month in Nationals Park, but he K’d swinging in his first at-bat, and the 37-year-old, 16-year veteran had the bases loaded when his spot came up for a second time, and he drew a walk that forced in a run.
With the bases loaded again in the sixth, the Washington Nationals’ first first round pick (4th overall in 2005) struck out again, and he grounded out in his final plate appearance of what could be his final major league game before manager Davey Martinez pulled him off, so that the home crowd in D.C. could acknowledge his contributions in the nation’s capital if it was really it.
Zimmerman talked in his post game press conference about how and when he would make a decision on his future, but also about failing to come up with a big hit in the at-bats in the 7-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox, and what it was like to play in front of 33,986 fans, knowing that his future was uncertain.
“The atmosphere was so cool at the park this year, with obviously [the Red Sox] being right in the thick of it,” Zimmerman said.
“[Boston’s] fanbase always travels well. Our fans coming out for a beautiful weekend the last three games. So, kind of to have that atmosphere was awesome, to play those last three games, and obviously today too, but yeah, I mean, I had a couple chances, couldn’t come through, but it was a fun game to be a part of.”
A reporter noted that Zimmerman did take a bases loaded walk, which got a quick thumbs up from the first baseman.
“I did. RBI walk,” Zimmerman said.
2022 and Beyond:
With the 2021 season over, and his future up in the air (depending upon what Zimmerman decides he’ll do when he sits down and discusses it with his family and determines if he’ll ramp up for one more go-round in ‘‘22 when he’d usually start to get going), the infielder was asked for his plan on Day 1 of the ‘21 offseason, and potentially a new phase of his life.
“My girls get on the bus at 7:45 [AM], so the alarm will go off at 6:30,” Zimmerman said. “So, you know, I think that’s part of the process as well. They’re getting older. I have the ability to possibly be around more, which a lot of parents, my parents didn’t have that ability, I mean, most people’s parents don’t have that ability. We’re lucky to be in a situation where I’m retiring because I’m old and I’m 37 with my whole life ahead of me. A lot of people miss a lot of these years with their kids and their families, so that’s the biggest decision for me, honestly.
“Do I want to keep playing?” he asked rhetorically.
“I think I can keep playing. I think I had a really good year with the role that I was supposed to do, and now it’s a decision of whether I want to keep doing that or do I want to be around my family a little bit more.”
The Nationals’ Way/Zimmerman’s Way:
Zimmerman’s eighth manager in D.C., Davey Martinez, talked after the Nationals’ 161st game of the season, about watching the veteran hustle around to second base and dive into the bag on a pinch hit double, and said it was a perfect example of the way Zimmerman has played the game in his career.
“He plays the game the right way,” Martinez said. “And it’s a learning lesson for our young guys how hard he plays the game and how good he plays the game, so him, you see Juan [Soto] running the bases hard, you see Josh Bell running the bases hard, our young guys need to learn from those guys because they play the game the right way.”
“Yeah, that’s just the way I was taught to play the game,” Zimmerman explained. “It’s the way I was taught to play the game when I started back home. I think when I got called up I was lucky to have some veteran guys that said, ‘This is how you play the game at this level. Don’t take things for granted.’ I always remember something Derek Jeter said: ‘If I can run hard four times in a game and I’m 40 years old,’ or whatever he said, ‘then so can everyone else.’
“I just think you owe that to the game. There’s millions of people that would give lots of things to be able to do what we do. And did I run every single fly ball out? Probably not, no one is perfect. But I think that’s just the way I was always taught to play the game, and I think it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 like I was when I got called up or 37 like I was yesterday, if you can’t play the game the right way and you can’t do that stuff, then to me it’s time to get out.”
Zimmerman will make the decision on whether it’s time to get out at some point this winter, but he’s already begun to reflect on all he’s accomplished in his 16-year career.
“I think I’ll sit down and now that all this stuff has happened — growing up only four hours away, I still am close with tons of people that I grew up with and played baseball with, and so I think the last few years I’ve started to reflect a little bit more. Like I’ve always told you guys, it’s so hard to do it while you’re still in it. But now I’ve got a little time to sit back and, yeah, look at some of that stuff that I’ve never really looked at before and share it with my kids and with my family and I’m going to enjoy it.”