The Washington Times - April 22, 2012, 12:50PM

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said that the right shoulder inflammation that caused him to be a late scratch Saturday afternoon “felt a lot better” on Sunday morning. With the Nationals game against the Marlins getting rained out, Zimmerman will get three straight days to rest the shoulder and saw no reason he wouldn’t be in the starting lineup Tuesday night in San Diego.

“Felt better (Sunday morning),” Zimmerman said. “Not that it was terrible the other day. But these next two days will be nice. I really don’t see any reason right now why I won’t play on Tuesday.” 

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Zimmerman felt he aggravated the shoulder with some of the diving plays he’s made this season — of which there’ve been several — but doesn’t plan to change his game at all with the soreness in mind. Outside of the Nationals’ home opener, after which Zimmerman lambasted his own defensive performance, the third baseman has made countless highlight-reel plays already this season. He also made a head-first leap into home plate on a failed attempt to score Monday night.

“I’ve had a chance to dive for so many balls,” he said. “The fourth-and-goal pylon dive into home (last Monday night) probably didn’t help. But you can’t tell any of these guys in here not to play. It’s just the way we’ve always been taught to play, and no matter how many times I get hurt, that’s the way I’m going to play. It’s just one of those things.”

Chad Tracy was in the Nationals’ lineup at third base Sunday before the game was postponed so now, with the Nationals’ traveling to San Diego before an off day on Monday, Zimmerman will be allowed three straight days of rest for the shoulder without missing more than one game.

“I was going to take today off anyway,” Zimmerman said. “So essentially, instead of having today off, I just had yesterday and I won’t miss any games besides that one. It’s very convenient.”

Mark DeRosa stepped in for Zimmerman on Saturday when he was a last-second scratch before the game. The Nationals’ improved bench, which was a focal point this offseason and what manager Davey Johnson feels is one of his most important tools as a manager, makes it a bit easier, Zimmerman said, to allow yourself time to let some soreness subside.

“It’s hard for us ever to say we don’t want to play today, because all of us want to play every single day,” Zimmerman said. “But it does make it a lot easier when you know that you can take a day off and it’s not going to affect the team a ton. I think it’s going to keep us, I would say, a lot fresher too, because Davey’s big on keeping guys on the bench sharp.”