Zimmerman dealing with shoulder inflammation, no structural damage

Here's the good news that I can pass along on Ryan Zimmerman after today's 2-1 Nationals win over the Braves: An MRI revealed that Zimmerman does not have any structural damage in his sore right shoulder and he isn't going on the disabled list at this time.

The other news - I guess you could call it bad news - is that the MRI did show that Zimmerman has some inflammation in his shoulder.

Zimmerman was pulled from yesterday's game against the Braves after just five innings due to discomfort in the shoulder, the same shoulder that has bothered him for much of the last three years. Zimmerman underwent surgery on the AC joint in the shoulder after the 2012 season, but inflammation has returned to that area.

For now, the Nationals aren't sure how they'll proceed with Zimmerman.

"We're going to reevaluate on Tuesday," manager Matt Williams said. "The MRI showed no structural issues, but there's some inflammation there. We're going to look at that certainly on Tuesday and see how he feels. But as of right now he's got today and tomorrow off.

"Swinging is fine. The issue he's got is probably throwing overload. He throws a lot and he works at it really hard so it may be a little overload at this point."

Zimmerman had inflammation in the shoulder in 2012, prior to the surgery, and he received multiple cortisone shots throughout the course of the season in an attempt to get rid of the inflammation and loosen up the shoulder.

The cortisone worked, as Zimmerman clubbed 25 homers that season, including 17 in the second half of the season. Cortisone could potentially be an option again, but many doctors caution against a patient using cortisone too often, because it doesn't actually lead to any healing of the real physical issue, but instead just masks the discomfort.

As Williams mentioned, Zimmerman doesn't feel the discomfort when he swings, but he does when he throws. That led to a question from a reporter about whether Williams would consider using Zimmerman as mostly an option off the bench for now.

"I envision him playing third base," Williams said. "That's the plan, but of course you have to look at things and adjust if need be. As of right now, as soon as he feels good he'll be back at third.

Zimmerman had been throwing a lot as he tried to strengthen the shoulder and get his arm strength back to an acceptable level, but the Nats feel that all that work might have ended up having a negative effect. Williams said that having Zimmerman continue to play third base but just cut down on the amount of throwing that he's doing pregame is "a theoretical option."

"We look at it and say, 'It's a little bit of overload,' " Williams said. "So we have to curtail that just a touch to make sure he feels good. What does that involve? Maybe it doesn't involve as many throws. Maybe it's cutting down the amount of grounders he takes in pregame. I know that he likes to go down, especially when it's cold, to the cage and throw. Maybe it's an adjustment to that, too. I talked with him today, we're going to look at it again on Tuesday. We can't curtail it right now because we have to make sure he's good to go and that he feels good. ...

"We'll take the appropriate steps to make sure his arm feels good. Once it does then he's going to play third for us. Until that time there may be some adjustment within there, but I don't anticipate it being a long time."

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