SAN DIEGO — Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman tested his right shoulder with light hitting on Thursday but found little improvement in the soreness in his inflamed AC joint.
Zimmerman will visit with Dr. Neil ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Friday and likely receive a medicinal shot. After his consult, and once ElAttrache discusses things with Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih, the team will decide whether or not a disabled list stint will be necessary.
The Nationals are not concerned that the injury is worse than initially diagnosed and are sending Zimmerman to ElAttrache in order to allow the third baseman to remain with the team while getting treatment and not have to go back to Washington to see Douoguih.
“The diagnosis is fairly straightforward,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson when asked if the team was worried it might be something requiring surgery.
“I don’t want to speak for the doctor but he’ll probably have more medication put in that area, is what I gather. Then the amount of rest time is going to probably be discussed between him and Wiemi. If it’s going to be a shorter period of time, he wouldn’t go on the DL, or we put him on the DL.”
Any disabled list stint would be backdated to April 21 so Zimmerman would be eligible to return as early as May 6, when the Nationals welcome the Philadelphia Phillies to Nationals Park for Sunday Night Baseball. Johnson indicated, however, that if the doctors feel 10 more days would not be necessary, the team would be OK playing shorthanded for a few more days in order to get Zimmerman back sooner.
“I mean, he’s our best player,” Johnson said. “My three-hole hitter. I don’t like the idea of him missing another 10 days. But if that’s what’s going to be the best for him to get it cleared up, we’ll take that course.”
Zimmerman expressed frustration that he hadn’t had enough improvement by Thursday to quell questions about his status. But he understood that, just as he explained on Tuesday, the injury is like a sprained ankle or jammed finger, just not in a place he’s able to tape up and play, so to speak.
“It was no worse,” Zimmerman said. “A little better, maybe, but not better enough.”
“Hopefully, it’ll just continue to get a little bit better,” he added. “It’s easier to take your time when you’re 14-4, so we got that going. But it’s frustrating. You work hard all offseason to get healthy. You go through something like this where you can’t really do anything about it.”
The pain was difficult for Zimmerman to describe, though he did say it is not nearly bad enough where he feels like he has to cut off his swing or drop the bat.
“It’s not like a catch or a pop or a pinch,” he said. “It’s kind of like a discomfort that doesn’t let me be aggressive and swing the bat like I usually swing the bat.”
Zimmerman expected that, after getting a shot on Saturday that hasn’t yet had the desired effect, the doctors would likely use an ultrasound technique with the second shot to be sure to guide it right to the desired spot. If the doctors agree that only a few more days of rest will be necessary, the Nationals would likely not put Zimmerman on the disabled list. If they feel total rest is necessary for a bit longer period, they would likely make a move to add another player to the roster.
If he did need to go on the DL, Zimmerman said he did not think he would require a rehab assignment, expecting that batting practice would likely suffice for him. The only test, really, is to swing the bat so until he’s cleared to do that, he won’t know if any of the treatment (which is mostly rest and ice) has had its desired effect.
“It’s so hard to tell because it doesn’t hurt at all when I do any daily activities,” he said. “The only way to really see if it hurts still is to swing. I can do everything with my right hand, my left hand. It’s frustrating.”
Chad Tracy got the start at third base in Zimmerman’s place on Thursday, the second start for him there as Johnson mixes and matches with Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi and Mark DeRosa in Zimmerman’s absence.