Ryan Zimmerman has torn abdominal muscle, will need surgery (updated)

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will have surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn rectus abdominis muscle, and is expected to be out for six weeks, the team announced today.

Dr. Bill Meyers, a specialist Zimmerman saw Friday, will perform the surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The news takes the Nationals’ best player, who hasn’t played since April 9, out of their lineup until mid-June if all goes well, though a Nationals source said this morning that Zimmerman could be out until the All-Star break if there are setbacks. He was playing with an abdominal strain since mid-March, but aggravated the injury sliding headfirst into second base three weeks ago against the Mets.

“We did everything we could to try and avoid (surgery), which is the first step, always,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just to a point now where it hasn’t been getting better, where we might as well go in there and fix it.”

Zimmerman first had an abdominal strain that caused him to miss three days in spring training, and later had a groin injury that kept him out for 10 days. At that time, he had an MRI that “showed some “minor changes, certainly not to the extent he had after the second MRI (with Meyers),” Douoguih said. He had a 1.022 OPS in his first eight games, but after he slid headfirst against the Mets, he was shut down.

“The groin cleared up, hadn’t been a problem, and the rectus muscle in the abdomen is where it became a big problem,” Douoguih said. “They all attach in the same place. They don’t always work together but they can be injured by the same mechanism.”

Said team trainer Lee Kuntz: “That one slide was the thing that tipped the scale.”

Zimmerman had been throwing with Kuntz this week, but only threw for a few minutes on Thursday, and his injury was still feeling tight when he threw. On Friday, the Nationals’ doctors and Zimmerman decided together that he should see a specialist.

The third baseman will walk a mile the day after surgery, but Douoguih said the timetable for when he can start baseball activities depends on how he’s recovering from the surgery.