Both guys have been battling ailments of some sort recently.
Neither is thought to be serious, however.
Zimmerman is out of the lineup today for the second straight day because of a tight back, which started bugging him on the Nationals’ recent road trip. The third baseman feels it was a combination of the recent travel and a play at the plate on Sunday which kind of caused the back to tighten up, but he insists he’ll be back in the lineup for tomorrow’s series finale against the Phillies.
“I’ll play tomorrow,” he said. “I could’ve played today, but Davey (Johnson) kind of likes to give us an extra day at this point of the season, just to make sure it gets out of there. He said we’ll get Chad (Tracy) some at-bats today, and I will play tomorrow.”
While Zimmerman said he lobbied to play today, he added that it’s important to take the necessary amount of time to let the back heal up, especially with the Nats in the middle of a stretch which has them playing 35 games in 34 days.
Johnson said that there’s still “a lot of tightness” in Zimmerman’s back, but Zimmerman took some dry swings yesterday and said he could be available to pinch-hit tonight, if he’s needed.
“Today feels way better than yesterday,” Zimmerman said. “And I suspect tomorrow will feel even better the way it’s been recovering. So I’m 99.99 percent (sure) I’ll play tomorrow.”
It was Zimmerman’s right shoulder which bugged him for most of the first half of the season, but that hasn’t been an issue lately. Zimmerman’s smoking the ball, and hopes he can make it the rest of the season without needing another cortisone shot or more excessive treatment.
“Every morning I’ve woken up, it’s felt good,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve just got to keep going with it and keep doing the exercises I’ve been doing. Hopefully it won’t come back, and if it does, we’ll take the certain measures we took before. But hopefully we won’t have to worry about that.”
As for the Nationals’ most consistent starter, Zimmermann will be pushed back a day in the rotation, moving his next scheduled start from Friday to Saturday. Gio Gonzalez will flip-flop with Zimmermann in the rotation and will pitch the nightcap of Friday’s doubleheader, with John Lannan starting the first game.
Zimmermann has been dealing with shoulder inflammation lately which has made it tougher for him to get loose before starts. Johnson said that his right-hander is taking oral medication to ease the inflammation, but the Nats will give him an extra day of rest, as well. Gonzalez will still be on normal rest because of Monday’s day off.
“To make it easier for everybody concerned, Gio can throw (a side session) today and pitch Friday,” Johnson said. “He’s had his full rest, and this just gives Zim an extra day. It’s not a big deal, because he’s feeling good. A lot better than he has been. And he’s been pitching lights-out, so that’s good.”
Johnson pointed to Zimmerman’s recent velocity - he topped out at 97 mph on Saturday - and effectiveness as evidence that the righty’s shoulder issue isn’t serious. But the Nats will be a little extra careful with him, just in case.