Zimmermann hunting for more wins in 2011

Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is enjoying this off season much more so than last year when he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

"It is nice," says Zimmermann. "I can actually go home and have a month off and not have to worry about rehabbing every single day. I have been working out for (four weeks now). It is good to get back in the swings of things and not have to worry about going to rehab every day and just working on my arm. I can lift like a normal baseball player does."

Zimmermann says he is getting a chance to do some hunting in South Dakota and finds it very therapeutic.

"Right now it is bow season," says Zimmermann. "I haven't gotten anything yet but I am working on it. We got a bunch of ducks and some pheasants (with a hunting rifle)."

"(Bow hunting) is a lot harder than a rifle. This is really my first year. You have to be really quiet and they got to get a lot closer so I takes a little more skill."

Does good "hand-eye" coordination help in bow hunting?

"I would say 'eye' helps the most," says Zimmermann. "You have to be able to spot them when they are walking through the woods and blending in with everything. It is just fun to be out there and is really relaxing."

As for baseball, Zimmermann felt like he was gaining strength as the regular season drew to a close.

"I was getting close to 100 percent at the end of the year," recollects Zimmermann. "Right now my arm feels really good after a month off. I am getting really excited about throwing again after Christmas or so to just see how it feels and how it bounces back after the time off."

Zimmermann worked very hard on speed and location of his changeup during his rehab starts and it is a pitch he still works on every time he goes to the bullpen.

"It is definitely a pitch I still have to work on," says Zimmermann. "You can never be perfect. You always got something to work on. It is something I am going to be working on this offseason and try to get a little bit better every time I go out and throw."

Zimmermann feels the team is closer to getting where they want to be and felt they were even better than the 10-game improvement they made in 2010.

"I thought last year was going to be a pretty good year for us. We made up ten games from the year before. There still were a lot of one run games that we let slip away. We could have easily been 15 or 20 games better than the year before.

Hopefully this year we come out a play a little bit better ball, not have quite as many errors, starting pitching has got to come around and we got to pitch a little better, the bullpen did a great job.

As a starting staff do a little bit better job and try to get to the sixth or seventh inning each game. If we can, we should be pretty good.

Watching the young pitchers do so well in the world series between the Giants and Rangers made Zimmermann confident that the Nats pitching can affect many more games in 2011 and in the near future.

"It is one of those things where if you can get to the sixth or seventh innings and give up three or four runs or less you will pretty much be in the game every night. Granted the hitters are going to have some off nights, but most of the games this year we were putting up five, six, seven or eight runs. If you can limit the damage you will be just fine."

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