Zimmermann strong in first rehab start

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Nationals righthander Jordan Zimmermann looked strong in his first rehab start for the Potomac Nationals since Tommy John surgery 318 days ago before a packed house at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Zimmermann donned the home white jersey with the dark blue and red trimmed numerals and the #29 instead his usual #27. He threw 25 pitches, 16 for strikes in two innings of work against the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

He allowed a pair of lead off hits, but no walks, no runs and no strikeouts in facing just seven hitters. Zimmermann also had to make a couple of plays in the field coming off the mound and had no problems executing outs.

Jordan induced an inning ending 6-4-3 double play in the second frame. "I wasn't trying to get any strikeouts" in that second inning, "I was just trying to get them to beat it into the ground."

He finished the evening with about 10 pitches in the bullpen.

Afterwards, Jordan was pleased with his first game in almost a year.

"I felt real good. I kept the ball down for the most part. I gave up a couple of leadoff hits, battled and got out of it so it was good."

The scout sitting in front of me clocked Zimmermann's fastball in the mid-90's consistently the whole night, hitting 94 miles per hour several times and once posting 95 MPH.

"I am not real worried about the velocity as much as the control. I am looking for more control than velocity right now. I was pulling a couple of balls and I don't know if it was just being out there for the first time. I don't know. I will get some work in tomorrow and I will be ready to go in another five days."

"It feels great. I have been waiting ten months and to finally get out there it feels good."

Jordan says he expects to move up to three innings in his next start, likely to be July 8 or 9 at Frederick.

He knows he has to be patient on this road back.

"There is a process for everything. You have to start in the minors and get your innings. You need to get your work in and get back to where I was when I got called up."

Jordan says two innings is a good place to start and does not feel he could go five innings right now.

He said he envisions three or four starts down the road he could go five innings. This is consistent with what he told me last week of the 2,3,4,5 inning game-by-game gradual ramp up as he continues his rehabilitation on schedule.

Saturday night was a great first step.

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