Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list today retroactive to Sunday, so the earliest he could return to the Nationals' lineup is for their game on Tuesday, April 26 (they have an off-day the day before, when Zimmerman could come off the DL). Manager Jim Riggleman was optimistic Zimmerman could be ready to return that day, but no one knows for sure if the third baseman's abdominal strain will heal in time.
"I'm hearing, 'Give it 10 days, and if it turns into 20 days, that's just what it is,'" Riggleman said. "It's got to be at least 15. If it's 10 (days before he's ready), that would be ideal, because then we could get him in some simulated game situations, keep him that much sharper. When he gets into 20 (days) or so, you have to start thinking about going on a rehab assignment. It's a pretty long time to stay away from live pitching. We're certainly not going to rush the process."
Zimmerman has been dealing with the injury since spring training, but still doesn't have a handle on what initially caused it. It didn't stop him from posting a 1.022 OPS in the season's first eight games, but when he slid headfirst into second base on Saturday, he pushed it past the point where he could continue to play.
"We've tried to pinpoint (the cause of) it, but it's kind of hard to tell," Zimmerman said. "Playing baseball, you have so many aches and pains that come about and then go away and then come about and go away. You don't really think about them unless they're big-time at the beginning. This one wasn't serious in the beginning - it bugged me at the beginning of the season, in Florida, things like that, but it was still at the point where I could play and be effective. It got to the point in New York where I couldn't be effective."
The Nationals will use Jerry Hairston and Alex Cora at third in Zimmerman's absence, but Michael Morse could also end up there so they can get a better look at Laynce Nix in left field and keep Hairston and Cora free to play in other spots.