Seven times in the last six years Ryan Zimmerman has had to take these questions from reporters, seven times explaining why an injury was forcing him to the disabled list and seven times trying not to get frustrated by the situation.
As he went through the process again today, after landing back on the DL with a left wrist contusion, Zimmerman admitted it's starting to get to him more than it has in the past.
"Yeah, it's really frustrating," the 31-year-old first baseman said. "I think I've done a pretty good job trying to stay even-keel with it. I was talking with (agent Brodie Van Wagenen) last night, and I was pretty upset about this. A lot of this stuff, I wouldn't say you can control, but coming back I was feeling pretty good, and obviously we have a really good team. They'll be fine and it shouldn't be too long, but I enjoy playing baseball. Not being able to do it is tough."
Zimmerman had already missed 2 1/2 weeks in July with a strained ribcage muscle, then appeared in only six games before getting struck in the wrist by a fastball from Giants closer Santiago Casilla on Sunday at AT&T Park. The Nationals hoped he'd be ready to return within a few days, but the bone bruise didn't heal that quickly, so they made the decision to place him on the DL and not have to play a man short any longer.
Zimmerman, who is hitting a career-low .222 in 80 games, said X-rays taken right after the injury occurred and an MRI taken this morning showed no fractures and no tendon damage. The injury is simply a bone bruise, but that in itself can take a while to heal, especially in such a sensitive area for a hitter. He attempted to take batting practice in the interim, but that wasn't helping matters.
"We tried a couple times," he said. "And basically what the doctors said is: If you keep doing that, it's just going to go one step forward, two steps back, if you keep aggravating it without letting the swelling get out of there. We just have to give it some time."
With Zimmerman shelved again, the Nationals will mix and match at first base. Daniel Murphy is starting there tonight, with Trea Turner at second base and Ben Revere in center field, but manager Dusty Baker also will at times use Clint Robinson at first base, with Murphy at second and Turner in center field.
In the meantime, Baker wants Zimmerman not to let himself get too down by the latest in an already-long string of DL stints.
"I just told him: You've got to be strong," Baker said. "I told him to play the game in his mind. Frustration really doesn't help the situation. Actually, it can make it worse if you're worrying. It impedes guys' healing process by worrying, to me. I just told him to work on other parts of his body. Keep your legs strong and make your other arm strong. Come back in better shape than when you left. I urged him, I believe in, especially key guys, don't feel sorry for themselves, to be with the team, travel with the team and try to help out."