Nationals manager Matt Williams had an update on third baseman/outfielder Ryan Zimmerman as he recovers from a severe hamstring injury. Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a right hamstring strain.
"I know that he's strengthening, I know he's been on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill). Certainly no baseball activity as of yet," Williams confirmed. "It's a question of him feeling good and then taking a little extra time, because the natural tendency is 'oh, I feel good, let's test it'. But that's an injury you can't test. We know its going to take some time to heal the muscle."
Williams reiterated the Nats have to be ultra careful with Zimmerman and what has been described as a Grade 3 strain.
"We have to be sure when he comes back that he's ready, that there are no limitations, and he can score from first and play defense and do all the things that he does really well," Williams said. "We have to make sure that there are no limitations when that happens."
Some speculated that Zimmerman might be lost for the season. Williams was asked in his "heart of hearts" when did he think Zimmerman could take the field again for the Nationals.
"Sometime in September. When? I don't know," Williams said. "But sometime in September. I don't think anything would happen until after the first because he still hasn't gone the full gamut of tests. And then he would have to have some time to play. So we'll go from there. But it will be sometime in September."
Depending on when in September this is, and if the minor league seasons are over, then Zimmerman would play in either instructional league or simulated games in Florida before returning to the Nationals.
The Nationals play a four-game set in Miami, Fla. against the Marlins September 18-21. It's only a three-hour drive down the Florida turnpike and I-95.
Williams also said Rafael Soriano is eligible to be selected to pitch tonight after a couple of days off. Soriano last pitched August 17 in a game he allowed three earned runs in 1/3 of an inning against the Pirates. He has surrendered five earned runs in his last four appearances.
"I think he feels good. He went out and he threw again yesterday," Williams said of Soriano. "No problems (and) no issues with the arm. And tonight if we've got the lead in the ninth inning in a save situation, he'll get the ball.
"For him, its command of his fastball and his breaking ball hadn't been there over the last few. Does it mean its not going to be? No, it doesn't mean that. I think the couple of days off will help. Certainly be fresher, body wise, leg wise, arm wise and I think the crispness of the pitches will get back to where it was before."
But we just overworked him. It's a function of our games and the games we were in. Sometimes that happens to the back end of your bullpen."
Williams explained why Anthony Rendon is not in the starting lineup tonight after 62 straight starts. Kevin Frandsen was scheduled to start at third Wednesday night against the D-backs.
"Yeah, he needs a day, like a lot of guys," Williams said. 'Today is just his day to take a day off. He's played a lot of games. He's been on base a lot of course because he's hit well. Played hard defensively too. We'll give him today. Hopefully that will take him to the next off day and that will take him beyond there and we'll look at the future. Today is just a day."
Rendon has played in 120 games this season after playing in 98 contests last year.
With Rendon playing more games in a season then he ever has in a professional or college season, is Williams concerned of his young third baseman wearing down?
"I think he's been really good," Williams said. "Again, you are in unchartered waters. You don't have experience in that regard when you get to this point. So, I think he's held up really well."
What about Ian Desmond and why the veteran shortstop hasn't taken a day off?
"Yeah, he refuses so at some point I'm going to have to force him," Williams said. "But that's part of the process now to make sure that the off days are few and far between now until the end of the season. It's a function of our schedule but its' also a function of a rain out. The next off day comes on a long trip across country so it won't really feel like one. Because that day'll be kind of wasted after playing a game in Philly and going to Seattle. So we'll have to mindful of that too.
"We'll have to pick some days where guys get days off. It's important."
Besides Desmond, Williams would like to find days off as well as for Adam LaRoche, Denard Span and Bryce Harper.