Johnson concerned about Zimmerman, middle of the order

In his opening remarks to the media after today’s 4-1 loss to the Yankees, manager Davey Johnson cut right to the chase.

He’s starting to get worried about the prolonged slump Ryan Zimmerman has been in all season.

“Only thing that really concerns me - we’ve got to get Zim going,” Johnson said. “Need to get Zim in a happy place.”

Johnson’s remarks come after yet another hitless game for Zimmerman, his 17th contest without a base knock in 50 games played this season. The Nationals third baseman goes into tomorrow’s off-day batting .229 on the year and with just 13 extra-base hits to his name.

“He’s such a great athlete and such a talented player,” Johnson said. “I haven’t had much conversation with him about it, but go on this road trip, I’m going to sit down with him and try to figure it out.”

Asked whether he feels there is still something wrong with Zimmerman’s right shoulder, which landed the 27-year-old on the disabled list for a 17-game stretch earlier this season, Johnson replied: “Well, I’m not totally sure. That’s why I want to sit down and have a talk with him.”

Zimmerman’s not the type to blame his poor play on an injury, even if it was plaguing him. His response when questioned about the shoulder was: “I feel good.”

The low batting average from Zimmerman is only part of the problem. A .229 average isn’t pretty, but it would be a lot easier to take if there were solid power numbers right alongside it in the box score. But Zimmerman has just three home runs and only 22 RBIs more than a third of the way through the season.

“Obviously I’m not doing as well as I want to,” Zimmerman said. “I think anytime you’re not getting hits like that, something has to change. I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep doing the same things I’ve done my whole career, and it’ll turn around. The worst thing you can do is panic and try to change everything. We’ve still got 3 1/2, four months left, and I plan to continue to work and work out of this thing and help us win more games.”

One possible way of fixing the problem, Zimmerman said, is trying to focus on hitting to all fields. Zimmerman admitted he’s gotten a bit pull-happy recently, and will try and focus on staying on the ball and taking it to right a bit more.

Unfortunately for the Nats, Zimmerman isn’t the only offensive issue they’re dealing with. Michael Morse has yet to find a groove since coming back off the DL, and is batting just .211 on the season, and none of the Nats’ 4-7 hitters are currently batting above .265.

Johnson spent the bulk of his postgame press conference today talking about how those numbers have to improve, bringing the topic up repeatedly.

“We’re not striking any fear in the opposing pitcher,” Johnson said. “They’re having it too easy with us. And those guys need to get going. They’re certainly talented enough to get going. Whatever we’ve got to do to get it going, the whole season’s in front of us. There’s plenty of time. But I’d just like to see us getting the head out, throwing the bat, not getting beat. We seem to be getting beat too much.”

That certainly was the case today, when the Nats managed just one run against the Yankees, wrapping up a sweep by the road team.

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