Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had four cortisone shots during the 2012 season as he battled inflammation in his right shoulder.
Despite a slow start because of that aching shoulder, Zimmerman came on strong to finish with a .282 average, 25 homers and 95 RBIs. He also hit .381 in five games versus St. Louis in the National League Division Series. That critical third cortisone shot at Baltimore in late June turned his season around.
Zimmerman underwent successful arthroscopic surgery in late October to repair the shoulder. The Nationals expect him to be 100 percent healthy for the upcoming season. Defensively, there will not be a need for Zimmerman to protect his arm by throwing in a sidearm motion, as he had to more than a few times last summer. He will now be able to bring the baseball over his shoulder on throw again as he did earlier in his career.
The 28-year old is also such a good defensive third baseman, with his ability to dive left or right, and get to quick shots, get up and throw clean to first. Many observers believe that, in the future, the Nationals would have Anthony Rendon playing third and Zimmerman at first. What seems more likely is Rendon, with his quick hands at the plate and keen batter's eye, will find a place somewhere else in the infield, possibly at second base or first base.
Rendon had been working on looking the part defensively at third base. But it is way too early to throw in the towel on Zimmerman.
With his shoulder cleaned up, Zimmerman should now be able to resume the way he was playing third base in 2009, when he won a Gold Glove. The Nationals believe Zimmerman will be able to stay at third for a while now, even when Adam LaRoche's deal winds down in two seasons.
Instead of Zimmerman moving around soon defensively to a new position to extend his career, watch and see if Rendon gets some time at second base or maybe even shortstop in spring training and early in his minor league work this season.