If you were wondering what allowed Ryan Zimmerman to finally look like Ryan Zimmerman today, there's an answer to that.
For the first time in quite a while, Zimmerman wasn't playing with discomfort in his right shoulder.
Before today's game, Zimmerman received a painkilling shot in the shoulder. It was a trial run of sorts. The Nationals were hoping to find something which would allow Zimmerman to continue playing but find some semblance of the offensive production that he typically provides, but which has been missing due to his injury this season.
Despite talk last night of Zimmerman possibly going on the disabled list, that's not the plan at this point. He'll stay in the Nats lineup and hope that the painkilling medication continues to be of assistance.
"The doc was here today and we just decided (the shot is) going to give me the best chance to continue to play and not miss any time," Zimmerman said. "It's not going to do anything to further injure my shoulder or anything like that, so there's no risk. It just took some of that pain and that pressure away that's been bugging me for the past however long. Hopefully we won't have to do it again, but if we do, it was kind of a test trial and it worked OK."
It might have worked better than OK. Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with an RBI in today's game, upping his average to .223, and his run-scoring single was hit as hard as any ball he's struck in a while.
"To go out there today and feel a little bit like I could do the things that I've always been able to do, gave me a little bit more confidence and just makes you happier," Zimmerman said.
The last time Zimmerman received a cortisone shot, back in late April, he went on the disabled list immediately afterwards. The Nationals were hoping that combined with the medication, a couple weeks off would allow Zimmerman to return fully healthy (or at least close to it) and alleviate some of the discomfort in his shoulder.
But that time off didn't really help matters. Even after 17 days on the DL, Zimmerman still felt the shoulder when he swung. That's why he won't be going back on the disabled list this time around.
"I'll definitely be fine until the All-Star break," he said. "I think concerning the second half, it just depends how it reacts to this, how long it kind of feels good. If it starts to hurt again, we'll consider doing something else or (getting the shot) again. It's not something you want to get into a habit of doing, I guess you could say, but it's better than missing time."
The pain, Zimmerman said, isn't related to a ligament or tendon in his shoulder, but stems from the bones in his AC joint, which rub together when he swings. That's why Zimmerman said he felt "great" after the shot, because it eases the pain that comes from that rubbing.
Zimmerman hinted that he has bone chips in the shoulder, which could be removed surgically. That's a procedure which would knock him out for multiple weeks, however, which is why both he and the Nationals would prefer to leave the discussion about surgery until after the season is over.
"We obviously don't want to do that now," Zimmerman said. "I can play through this, and that's what I plan to do for the rest of the year."