The Nationals will be without third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for the second game in a row after his back began bothering him during an off day on Monday. Zimmerman had an awkward slide into home plate during a win at Milwaukee on Sunday, but says he’s feeling better and is “99.99 percent” going to return to the lineup on Thursday against Philadelphia.
“I could have played today and [manager] Davey [Johnson] likes to give us an extra day at this point in the season just to make sure it’s out of there,” Zimmerman said. “Nobody wants time off. But this month is the hardest of all the months, I guess you could say. Especially with the schedule we’ve had lately and that we’re going to have coming up.”
Washington just completed 18 games in 17 days to start the second half and are now in a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Sitting Zimmerman will also get Chad Tracy some at-bats. Just back after missing 55 games following sports hernia surgery, he takes over for Zimmerman at third base on Wednesday. Tracy did pinch hit in his first game back on Tuesday in that 8-0 loss to the Phillies.
Zimmerman said he actually didn’t feel his back tighten up during that 11th inning slide in Milwaukee – though he appeared to gingerly walk to the bench after scoring a run. He cites the combination of the constant games since the All-Star break, the travel and then adding in a physical play like that. After waking up Monday with some soreness the injury worsened throughout the day and some tightness in the back remains. Johnson isn’t taking any chances.
“I don’t want any setbacks,” Johnson said. He later added “I think we had every conceivable person here lay their hands on him. But he was in a pretty good frame of mind. It was a lot better. There wasn’t the sharpness there was the day before.”
Zimmerman said he hasn’t swung a bat since the off day, but he did take some dry swings during Tuesday’s game. He wanted to make sure Johnson knew he “wasn’t dead on the bench” and could have taken over if needed.
Zimmerman wasn’t exactly keen on answering questions about his right shoulder, which hasn’t been an issue since he received a cortisone injection on June 24 to reduce the inflammation in the AC joint. Will that pain return as the effects diminish?
“I wake up every morning wondering the same thing,” Zimmerman said. “But every morning I’ve woke up and it felt good. So we just got to keep going with it and keep doing the exercises and stuff that I’ve been doing. And hopefully it won’t come back. But if it does we’ll take the certain measures that we took before. But hopefully we won’t have to worry about that.”
Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14