The injury bug bites again

DENVER - There were plenty of positives last night for the Nationals.

The 7-4 win over the Rockies, of course. Adam LaRoche snapping a fairly lengthy slump with a massive three-run homer. The bullpen putting up four scoreless innings, giving them 7 1/3 scoreless frames at the hitter-friendly Coors Field this series. Bryce Harper continuing to come around. Jordan Zimmermann making it out of his outing feeling good physically.

Ryan Zimmerman’s hamstring injury seemed to put a damper on all of that positive stuff, however.

Zimmerman had already missed 44 games earlier this season with a fractured thumb. He had come back off the DL and been willing to play wherever the Nationals needed him - left field, first base and even third base, where he still has issues making over-the-top throws across the diamond.

He’d bounced around from position to position because that was best for the team. And of late, he had really started to rake, hitting .407 with an OPS of 1.100 in the 16 games prior to last night’s.

Then, trying to beat out a potential double play ball in the sixth inning, Zimmerman strained his right hamstring. He fell to the ground in pain, needed help getting up off the Coors Field dirt and had to literally lean on teammates as he attempted to maneuver his way down the dugout steps and into the tunnel.

You feel for Zimmerman, both because of all that he’s been through injury-wise over the last few seasons and because of how he’d been the consummate team player this season.

“You don’t ever want to see any of your teammates (suffer an injury), but a guy that’s battled back from one injury, a core piece of that lineup, it stings a little more,” Adam LaRoche said.

Beyond that, you also realize how this could impact the Nats as a whole, as they likely will again be shorthanded.

The Nats are 33-19 with Zimmerman in the starting lineup this season and have averaged 4.9 runs per game in those contests. Without him, the team is 22-24 and scores 3.5 runs per game.

Since Bryce Harper returned from a thumb injury of his own and the Nats finally had their full lineup together, the team has gone 12-5. Now, assuming Zimmerman lands on the DL (a fairly safe assumption at this point), that lineup will need to be tweaked again. Anthony Rendon will slide back over to third base and Danny Espinosa will likely get the bulk of the starts at second.

The Nats have battled through injuries before, and they believe they can do so again. And they hope that Zimmerman will only be out a brief period, and not much more.

Still, it stinks for Zimmerman, and it stinks for the Nats given how well they’d been clicking with their full squad in place.

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