Williams updates Zimmerman, LaRoche, Treinen

Nationals manager Matt Williams said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will have another x-ray today to check on his recovering right thumb fracture.

Zimmerman, on the 15-day disabled list since April 13, has been seen shagging fly balls in the outfield the last few batting practices.

“He also has been taking grounders in the infield too,” Williams said. “We have to be very careful with him because it is a fracture. His natural tendency in the infield is to catch the ball with two hands. So in an effort to get him some conditioning in and an effort have him go side to side, I want to keep him off the infield as much as possible.

“It is one thing to do grounders at first, which he did yesterday, but there is bad hops coming off of dirt. I lie awake at night thinking about a bad hop hitting him in the thumb and him being out eight more weeks. So I don’t want that.”

Williams explained the reasoning behind having Zimmerman playing defense in the outfield where there is a lot less chance his off hand will get dinged up by an errant grounder. Zimmerman was seen underhand throwing the caught fly balls back to the bat boys.

“It is an effort to condition, one, his legs, two, to try to simulate some of the things he does in the infield too, going to his left, going to his right,” Williams explained. “Turning and running and catching a pop up, whatever it is, without risk if a bad hop. So, that is what we are trying to accomplish with him.”

So the big question is, besides Zimmerman at first base at some point this season, would Williams play Zimmerman in the outfield too?

“I am not going to say that we are definitely not considering him,” Williams said. “I think he is a wonderful athlete. If there is a pinch during a game where we have nobody left and he has got to play left field or right field or center field, he could do it.

“That is where we sit. Once we get the x-ray and everything is OK, then we can start doing all the normal stuff that he does. But until that time we are just not going to risk it.”

He went on to say he believes Zimmerman could really play almost any place on the diamond defensively, even as the catcher. But that will not happen unless there is a big emergency.

“He is a pretty good athlete,” Williams said. “I imagine he could play anywhere. I can definitely say this, we would never put the gear on him. But he could catch. He could do that if we asked him to. But that ain’t going to happen.

Williams also had a good update on first baseman Adam LaRoche (quad) who has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 10. Williams said LaRoche will have scheduled rehab games when the quad is ready to go because he needs live games to test out the legs. Today it started with grounders at first base.

“My thought with that is the only way to test it and that is to play in game where you are not thinking about it,” Williams said. “Today he is taking some grounders. He’ll progress from there, full BP on the field and do some running the bases. He will do some side-to-side stuff. And then we will make a determination on when and where and how and if, all of those things.

“But I want him to go get a grounder that is just reaction. I want him to potentially turn and have to go into right field to try to catch a pop up or something. It is hard to simulate that. It is hard to go full speed unless you are going full speed.

“So when that is I don’t know. But we are progressing him now to get to that point where we can put him in a game situation and test it. Today is the first step, he is taking grounders today for the first time since he has been on the DL.”

Williams also confirmed that Blake Treinen will get the start Thursday at Pittsburgh with Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list due to left shoulder inflammation.

“Yeah, he is on schedule,” Williams said. “He will be one extra day. It is hard to deny him that opportunity after how he pitched against the Dodgers. It is really hard. You know on a limited pitch count. He pitched really well against them. He made the error, there was a misplay, but he pitched really well. And he has been building from there. He has been on normal every five day from there. So he will be prepared.”

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