Zimmerman on Dunn: "He is the most important piece of this team"

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman missed a couple of games with a rib strain, but before he went down with that injury, I had a chance to talk to the Nats' silver slugger about the season and what lies ahead for the Nationals in 2011.

He explained why he has been so consistent at the plate and continues to make the case for resigning slugger Adam Dunn.

Zimmerman says hitting .300 is certainly a goal each year, but feels being consistent at the plate is the key every year to reaching that plateau.

"The more experience you get, the more years you get in, the more you learn what it takes to get yourself ready each game," says Zimmerman.

"Obviously, you face pitchers more and you get a better understanding what pitchers are going to do to you.

"I think the more important thing is you learn how to get your body ready and get yourself ready for each game and that obviously gives you a better chance to be successful."

Zimmerman feels that next season with a healthy left fielder in Josh Willingham, the middle of the order can wreak havoc on opposing pitchers.

"Absolutely, I think finding a middle of the order and starting pitching are the two hardest things to find in baseball," says Zimmerman.

"We feel like we have an above average middle of the order when me, Adam and Josh are healthy.

"Not only are going to hit power numbers but we are going to hit for average. It is a fun thing to be a part of and a group that will work together and push each other and make the team better."

But to have that consistency remain, the Nats will have to figure out a way to keep Dunn in a Washington uniform, and that will take some work but, according to Zimmerman, would be the smartest move by the franchise this off season.

"I just think he is a huge part both on the field and in the clubhouse," says Zimmerman on Dunn.

"If we don't resign that guy, it is going to be hard to go out in the market and find someone even close to the equivalent to him with what he does offensively. Honestly, the second half of the season defensively he has gotten a ton better. He is only going to continue to get better.

"I think he is the most important piece of this team."

Zimmerman feels the Nats can still get Dunn to stay.

"Once we get that done hopefully than we can go out and address all the other needs that we need."

My conversation with Zimmerman continues all weekend long on masnsports.com.

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