Zimmerman on rehab game: "Hammy felt great"

WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman looked back to 100 percent health on the field, his hamstring returning to full strength, during his rehab assignment with the high Single-A Potomac Nationals on Wednesday night.

"Everything went great," Zimmerman said. "It was good to get back out there. Everything felt fine so I will work out tomorrow at the stadium and fly to Pittsburgh tomorrow night.

"I came here and got ready for a game (doing) everything that I would normally do to prepare for a game. Now we just take the next step."

Zimmerman played six innings and had three at-bats. His first at-bat turned out to be the best test for his hamstring as he raced down the first base line on a groundout to shortstop. He ran through first base down the line as the play was called and looked fine.

His next at-bat was a long fly ball out to center field. His final at-bat, he reached base on a fielding error by the third baseman. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher and Zimmerman ended up at second base.

Each play, he showed no ill effects from his sore hamstring and ran strong with each at-bat.

On defense, Zimmerman fielded a grounder in the second inning and fired to second for the out. The throw from second base to first was not in time to catch the fast runner.

In the fifth, Zimmerman charged a bunt attempt, fielded it cleanly and threw to first for the out. He also went after a pop up down the left field line and dove into the air for a single also down the line. All plays looked normal and the hamstring came through fine.

"Arm feels great," Zimmerman said of his defense. "Hammy feels great, so now it is just time to get back up there and get going."

Zimmerman said he did not use the time off to alter his fielding technique after a few errors to begin the season.

"Nobody likes to make errors." Zimmerman said. "But I would rather be out there and playing no matter what, whether I feel great or whether I don't feel great. Nobody ever wants to miss time. Unfortunately, I made some errors but my arm feels great now and everything feels good. You've got to keep going out there and keep trying to make plays."

He said Tuesday he was only going to play three innings if they hadn't decided to scratch him because of the wet field. The field was fine, but team personnel decided to be extra cautious. That is why they moved his start back to Wednesday. It was a cool night in Woodbridge, but conditions were dry.

Zimmerman said his hamstring started to feel better after taking the first four or five days off after the initial injury.

"It took only seven to eight days to completely get better and then you have to get back into game shape, play a couple of games and get ready," Zimmerman said. "Thankfully everything kind of went as planned and nothing really came back up. That is good. Hammys, you never really know."

Zimmerman was happy to see the Nationals defeat the Braves Wednesday, and is not panicking after the team's 14-14 start.

"We played great against Cincinnati," Zimmerman said. "You know, it is early, it is May 1. Everyone is a lot more worried than we are. Do we want to go 20-10 every month? Of course. But it is not going to happen. We just got to come back out and keep playing and keep getting better every night. Jordan (Zimmermann) threw great tonight. We have a long ways to go. In 160 some odd games, I like our chances."

Zimmerman got to spend a couple of days with the Potomac Nationals, and it reminded him of his time when he was first starting out.

"I always like talking with these guys," Zimmerman said. "Some of these guys come up and play during spring training. I get a chance to meet them. They have got some talent here. It is nice to come down here and see some guys that I will hopefully see sooner rather than later. It takes you back to your roots a little bit. It is always fun. They have a great time and they play hard."

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