Zimmerman, Adams both progressing toward return

NEW YORK - After spending all but the first couple days of the season without their complete lineup, the Nationals are inching closer to the day when they get the two remaining regulars on their injured list back on the active roster.

Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams each have taken significant steps in recent days in their rehab from injuries, and both first basemen could come off the IL by week’s end.

Zimmerman Swings Gray Sidebar.jpgZimmerman, on the IL with plantar fasciitis since April 28, ran on the field Sunday in his first serious test of his injured right foot.

“He’s sore, but not as sore as he thought he’d be,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s going to go back out there today and do some baseball activity, and then we’ll see where he’s at.”

Zimmerman has been taking grounders at first base for a week, and he has been hitting for several days as well.

Adams, meanwhile, took a full round of batting practice on the field today for the first time and said his strained left shoulder has responded well to all activities he’s performed up to this point.

On the IL since May 5, Adams plans to try to take BP again Tuesday and see how he feels after back-to-back workouts. The veteran slugger views that as “kind of the final box we’ve got to check.” He already has taken ground balls at first base and had no problems.

If all continues to go well, Adams seemingly could be ready to return later this week, but he’s not making any predictions.

“Whenever the people in charge decide it’s a go, whenever the training staff talks to them and gives them the OK, then it’s out of my hands,” he said. “I’m just making sure I’m following what I’m supposed to do to check the boxes I need to check and get out there and play the game with my boys.”

Whether it happens this week, this weekend or next week, the Nationals will welcome both first basemen back with open arms. Though they’ve been getting better than expected production out of fill-ins Howie Kendrick and Gerardo Parra, the domino effect of the injuries is significant.

To wit: With two outs and the tying run on base in the eighth inning Sunday night against the Cubs, Martinez needed a pinch-hitter. He went with Adrián Sanchez, who struck out against Chicago right-hander Steve Cishek. That situation would have screamed for Adams, or possibly even Parra.

“Us not being able to have a left-handed pinch-hitter, it’s tough,” Martinez said. “If Matty’s back, you either have Matty or Parra off the bench for that moment. But then again, you’re missing a big power bat in the middle of your lineup with those two on any given day. It’ll be nice to get them back.”

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