Back from vacation -- and some thoughts on Zimmerman

I’m back at the home office this morning after a fantastic vacation on the West Coast -- though I’m guessing you probably didn’t miss me too much because of the great work Pete Kerzel did in my absence. Thanks, Pete, for filling in so well and allowing me to take a stress-free break.

It was a busy week for the Nationals, what with new uniforms, free agency declarations and the usual offseason speculation about who will be here and who won’t. I was particularly interested to read what Ryan ZImmerman said about Adam Dunn coming back; he’s been vocal in the past about wanting Dunn to return, but this was the first time I’ve seen anyone address Dunn’s defense. For Zimmerman to offer such a spirited defense of Dunn speaks volumes, especially considering who it came from.

We’ve seen Zimmerman wear the face-of-the-franchise hat more comfortably in the last two seasons, issuing the company line when he felt it was necessary, but also playing the role of skeptic when he wanted to send a message to management. Zimmerman’s relationship with the Nationals is a sturdy one, but there’s an undercurrent of healthy skepticism. He’s a free agent after 2013, and from time to time, he’ll make sure everyone knows the reason he signed a five-year extension with the Nationals in April 2009 was because he expected they’d win during those five years. If they’re not winning by 2012, I’d expect you’ll hear him voice some concerns.

For now, he’s made it clear he thinks the best way to move forward is by keeping Dunn. That part should come as no surprise; the two have become close friends, and Zimmerman recognizes what Dunn’s protection in the lineup has meant to his own career. But for him to offer such a pointed defense of Dunn’s fielding skills was interesting. As Dunn tests the free agent waters, it bears watching how Zimmerman reacts to the whole thing.