Zimmerman could play the outfield before he plays first base

One way the Nationals could add the most power to their lineup prior to Bryce Harper's July return would be to get Ryan Zimmerman back on the field and keep Anthony Rendon at third base.

So Zimmerman would play at first base?

Nope.

Adam LaRoche returns Sunday and he would be back at his usual spot on the right corner of the infield.

So where would Zimmerman play? How about left field?

Zimmerman is more of a power hitter than Nate McLouth, who is a better defender in left field. Zimmerman had been hitting well before he went down with the thumb injury, and McLouth would be the first to tell you he is not quite where he wants to be offensively.

Can Zimmerman play good enough defense in left field?

Manager Matt Williams said this week he would have no qualms with putting Zimmerman in the outfield, if necessary. He said that Zimmerman is a great all-around athlete and can play pretty much any position.

"I am not going to say that we are definitely not considering him," Williams said this week. "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."

All week, the Nationals had said that Zimmerman was practicing in the outfield to get back in baseball shape and catch fly balls instead of the possibility of getting a bad grounder off the recovering thumb. Williams said he was having nightmares this week about that happening.

Maybe Williams is having more pleasant dreams this week.

By Sunday, the Nationals could have the services of LaRoche back full-time. Possibly by mid-June, they could also have Zimmerman, and he could play some games in the outfield. That way, they could have Zimmerman, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Rendon, LaRoche, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond all in the same lineup.

Zimmerman has played 1,119 games at third base and one game at shortstop. Span has played all 774 games in his career in the outfield. Espinosa has played 431 games at second base or shortstop. Zach Walters has played five games at shortstop, four games at third base and two games in the outfield.

Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell, speaking on Grant and Danny's 106.7 The Fan show, said Zimmerman playing left field would not be that much of a stretch because he is used to seeing the ball come off the bat from that side of the field.

And having Zimmerman back playing some games in the outfield and allowing Rendon to stay on the field every day could be a nice way to add serious punch to their offensive lineup. Now what about Span in the infield when Harper returns?

OK, maybe that's a stretch.

* Left-hander Sammy Solis pitched well in his second progression start at Single-A as he recovers from a back injury. Solis went 5 1/3 innings for high Single-A Potomac, scattering seven hits and allowing one earned run, walking one and striking out four. Solis twirled 86 pitches, 56 for strikes. I confirmed his next start will be at the Double-A level. On Thursday, Solis was officially sent to Double-A Harrisburg.

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