Updates from Wednesday, April 9
According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, Ryan Zimmerman has returned:
Ryan Zimmerman returns, playing third: Span CF, Rendon 2B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zim 3B, Desmond SS, Harper LF, Lobaton C, Zimmermann P.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) April 9, 2014
Matt Williams clarified his prior comments surrounding Zimmerman's shoulder according to Chris Lindebach of CBS Washington:
Matt Williams was sure to make the clarification that Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s right shoulder is “degenerative,” not “arthritic,” in his weekly interview with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday.
Williams said he’d mistakenly said ‘arthritic’ two days earlier, at 106.7 The Fan’s Chalk Talk, when he was asked about Zimmerman’s long-term viability playing third base, with a nagging shoulder injury that flares up at random, thus affecting his ability to throw the ball across the diamond.
“Well, I think some clarification probably is in order first,” Williams said Wednesday. “The word ‘arthritis’ kind of gets everybody, and everybody starts to talk about it. It’s more of a ‘degenerative’ issue in his shoulder. He had surgery, they took a piece of bone out some time ago, and it’s more ‘degenerative’ than ‘arthritic.’ As soon as you say ‘arthritic,’ people think that he’s got to get on medication and it’s gonna be a lifelong thing.”
“Well yea, but everybody’s got that,” Williams said. “I mean the more times you throw over the top, it starts to degenerate because it’s not a natural motion. So I think a lot’s been made of it that really shouldn’t be. But yea, he’s sore. And he has been sore. He’s had surgery and had issues with it, but that’s about all it is.”
“What to expect from Ryan is, him in the lineup tonight. You get a little sore, and he took a couple days off — we gave him some days — and working on a little bit different slot for him to throw in, and those types of things will help alleviate some of the soreness he gets.”
Updates from Tuesday, April 8
“But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say ‘Would I like Ryan to play third?’” Williams said. “Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder.”
“It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him,” he said. “So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes, in that regard, so he can go play first; he enjoys playing first; we did a little bit at spring training, worked hard at the position, and he enjoys it over there.
“So it gives us options, it gives him an option to go play first when his shoulder’s bothering him, or he needs a day, his legs need a day from playing third, or whatever it is. Those options are always there. So, do I see him moving to first? Yea, from time to time, but I would like him to be our third baseman for a long time. We have to take into account his shoulder, too. And that’s a concern. It’s a concern of his; it’s a concern of everybody else. We’re going to have to give him a break sometime.”
Updates from Sunday, April 6
The Nationals confirm Ryan Zimmerman won't play in today's game against the Braves:
Following the game, the club updated Zimmerman's status (via Dan Kolko of MASN):
Zimmerman has inflammation in his shoulder, Williams said. Will be reevaluated Tuesday.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 6, 2014
Way to add insult to injury.
After losing to the Atlanta Braves, 6-2, on Saturday afternoon, the Washington Nationals now have to deal with an apparent shoulder injury to star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nationals' official Twitter account provides the news on Zimmerman's injury:
#Nats Manager Matt Williams said 3B Ryan Zimmerman left tonight's game with right shoulder soreness. He will be reevaluated tomorrow.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 6, 2014
Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post gives more details on the situation:
Ryan Zimmerman was removed with shoulder soreness. MRI tonight.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) April 6, 2014
"It’s something I don’t want to take a chance on getting worse. All games are important. But to take the chance of setting him back and missing double the time, I’m not willing to take that gamble."
Even with the injury, Zimmerman wound up playing 147 games in 2013, hitting .275 with 26 home runs. But where he has struggled is defensively, committing errors due to his throwing motion, as Kilgore points out:
In every way, Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing is complicated. It is a subject of vital importance to the Nationals that, years into the struggle, cannot be described in simple declarations. How does his form look? How does his arm feel? How long can he play third base? The answers are not black-and-white, and they could change based on any number of factors, including the weather.
Start at the end of last year. Zimmerman made several spectacular plays and committed no errors in the season’s final 21 games. He seemed to conquer the throwing woes, which stemmed from November 2012 shoulder surgery, that threatened to consume him early in the season. Given the damage done inside Zimmerman’s shoulder, though, he did not simply pick up where he left off.
Zimmerman's injury could play a crucial part in the Nationals' season as they will have to compete with the Braves throughout the year for the NL East crown. After missing out on the playoffs in 2013, losing key players like Zimmerman could be an early setback the Nats can't afford.
With the likes of Jason Werth, Bryce Harper and other offensive weapons still in the lineup, Washington still has firepower to compete in a stout division. But if Zimmerman's shoulder becomes an issue as it was last season, the loss could be a crucial one for the 2012 division winners.
The severity of the injury has yet to be reported, but when more updates come through they will be added to this story.