VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman talked to reporters a few minutes ago about the news that he’ll bat cleanup, not third, for the Nationals this year. As you might expect, Zimmerman said he doesn’t care where he bats.
“You’re batting third or fourth the first time through,” Zimmerman said. “It’s like hitting leadoff. You hit leadoff the first inning of the game, and you might hit wherever. (It’s) whatever’s best for our lineup, and whatever makes sense to be more diverse.”
Zimmerman said manager Jim Riggleman asked him about the decision, and added that so far, Riggleman’s goal of being more hands-off with the team’s leadership has worked.
“Jim has always asked us what we think, and we’ve been able to go to him and talk about things,” Zimmerman said. “You run into problems when you’re talking about him (in the clubhouse), or you go (in his office) and about things that are going on out here. ... In his defense, we haven’t always had a clubhouse where he can (be more hands-off and let players lead). But we have a good group.”
Zimmerman has nearly 10 times as many plate appearances hitting third as he does hitting fourth, but the numbers at the spots are startlingly similar. He’s got a .287 average in both spots, and a .355 on-base percentage.
“It’s the same hitter,” Zimmerman joked.
Well, not quite. His slugging percentage batting third is .482. But hitting fourth? It’s nine points better, at .491.
“I guess he’s looking out for me,” Zimmerman said.