As Ryan Zimmerman began his rehabilitation process and baseball activities a few weeks ago, hitting and running came back for him fine. Throwing, though, continued to cause soreness and stiffness in the area of his surgically repaired abdomen. Zimmerman enlisted the help of Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber and the two have been working to alter his throwing motion for several weeks now.
While Garber isn’t sure if Zimmerman’s former, somewhat unorthodox throwing motion was the cause of his injury to begin with, what he’s got him doing now is meant to lessen the torque on both his core and his arm and employ more use of his legs when making throws.
“We’re just getting him in a better throwing position so his arm doesn’t do all the work,” Garber said. “When your arm does all the work, you’re going to lose some arm speed, the middle of your body takes a lot of torque and your arm takes a lot of torque. We’re getting him in a better throwing position to work the legs and the core of his body to take some pressure of the arm and give him a more efficient and stronger arm.”
Zimmerman’s previous motion included a full extension of his right arm out to his side and what he’s shown in his first three games back from the disabled list is more of a bent-elbowed toss. Garber has already seen an improvement in Zimmerman’s fundamentals, something he said can help to protect his body a little more and keep him healthier for the long term.
“You’re talking about a guy who wants to play for a long time,” Garber said. “A lot of guys, they have the arm strength and they’re so talented, they can do things that other guys can’t so they can get away from the fundamentals.
“Infielders throw from a lot of different angles. Sometimes we don’t throw as efficient as we can, but we have the arm strength to make the throws. Having an injury in that place, you want to keep his mechanics as sound as you can so that the body can take the wear and tear and it doesn’t affect the accuracy of the arm strength.”
It’s a change, one Zimmerman will continue to work on and adjust to, but Garber also likened it to tinkering with a player’s batting stance and swing. Improvements are constantly being made.
“There’s enough of a change where there’s a learning curve,” Garber said. “He’s going through that just like he was (during rehab). We have a strict schedule of drills we do each day to get different muscle memory so I think he’s getting more comfortable with it. There’s a little bit of change so he’s working through that and as good as it’s going to be, it’ll get better and better.”
Garber will remain with the Nationals through the end of the homestand, he said, and will continue to work with not only Zimmerman but all of the Nationals infielders — a group he termed “extremely rangy” for the next few days.