Ryan Zimmerman is continuing toward his return to the Nationals lineup after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb fracture on April 13. While there's no clear timeframe yet, the third baseman has felt good and passed the hurdles so far in his progression, according to manager Matt Williams.
"Tomorrow, we've set up some early batting practice for him on the field, so that's kind of his first day of really live BP," Williams said. "We'll see how that goes too. All indications are that he's not going to damage his thumb anymore by swinging the bat, but it could be sore."
In addition to testing how he feels at the plate tomorrow, Zimmerman has already started throwing.
"He's not letting it go yet, but that's part of the process," Williams said. "He's gotta graduate from 60 to 90 to 120 to full-go, but he ... was at 90 today. That was the protocol. ... So he felt good about it, but we're not gonna just go out there and throw a million baseballs."
Zimmerman has also been taking fly balls in the outfield during BP. Will we see him in the outfield for the Nationals?
"I can't say he's not going to play in the outfield. I can't say that that's the main plan, either," Williams said. "We're worried about him getting back as quickly as possible without relapse."
Williams also suggested the possibility of Zimmerman serving as the Nats' designated hitter during interleague games.
"He hasn't been able to throw, either, so he's gotta do that. But he'll probably DH first and then get into games and play the field," Williams said. "But I don't have that timeframe yet. It's not clear at this point."
In addition to offering updates on Zimmerman, Williams also talked about Gio Gonzalez, who is on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. The lefty threw at 120 feet today.
"Once he gets past 120, he can start going through his normal routine of in-between starts type of stuff and look to get to a bullpen (session)," Williams said.
With the Nats facing righty Henderson Alvarez tonight, it makes sense for switch-hitter Danny Espinosa to start instead of Kevin Frandsen. However, Williams said "there's no matchup reason" why Espinosa isn't in the starting lineup.
"He's making a change, so during the course of a season, it's difficult to make a change," Williams said. "What we want for him is success, and to make that change during the course of a season is difficult."
Update: The Nationals announced via Twitter that tonight's game will not start on time due to inclement weather.