Zimmermann: Missing All-Star Game "a possibility" due to stiff neck

PHILADELPHIA - For the last handful of weeks, Jordan Zimmermann has been pitching through some mild stiffness in his neck.

After tonight's outing, in which he allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Phillies, Zimmermann acknowledged that the neck issue could lead him to skip the All-Star Game, which he was selected to for the first time in his career.

"I mean, it's a possibility," Zimmermann said. "I'm not real sure yet about what I'm going to do, but we'll see how the next few days there and go from there.

"I'd rather be healthy for the second half than pitch in that and ... I'd like to pitch in it, but I'm not gonna go out there and just pitch an inning and have to battle the whole second half."

The Nationals' training staff hasn't been able to get a firm grasp on what exactly is ailing Zimmermann. The right-hander, who now has a 2.58 ERA after tonight's outing, says that he wakes up and feels discomfort on the right side of his neck some days. The other day, he woke up and the discomfort had shifted to the left side.

Zimmermann has been able to take the ball every fifth day and still pitch at a high level, but the fact that the neck issue has lingered for as long as it has is a little bit of a concern. He says that he doesn't really feel it too much while he's on the mound, but it will twinge every now and then during game situations.

The hope now is that it won't be something that will bother Zimmermann for the remainder of the season.

"It's just how it feels," Zimmermann said. "Just keep getting massages and hopefully works its way out. We're not real sure what it is, but we're gonna figure out what it is and go from there.

"It was probably worse the last start. It felt better tonight, but it's still not going away, so we'll get it figured out."

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