The Washington Times - February 23, 2012, 10:22AM

VIERA, Fla. — Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday that while there are no new developments to report with a possible contract extension for Ryan Zimmerman, the sides are continuing to talk and he’s “hopeful,” they could get something done.

Zimmerman’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, made his first appearance at Nationals camp on Wednesday and will attend Thursday’s workout as well. Both sides have been talking about Zimmerman’s next contract — which would kick in when this one expires after the 2013 season — for roughly a year now. Zimmerman has said he’d like to table all extension discussions once spring training begins in earnest with Saturday’s first full squad workout.

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“We continue to talk,” Rizzo said Thursday. “We’re working extremely hard at it and when both teams want something, and are working at it, yeah, I’m hopeful.”

Rizzo said the Saturday deadline would in no way stop him from talking, or at least trying to, with Van Wagenen about reaching a deal. Either way, the general manager feels the contract discussions will not be a distraction for Zimmerman or the rest of the team.

“I really don’t,” he said. “Because we won’t allow it to be. We’ve got a player here who wants to be in Washington, we’ve got ownership who wants him to be here, so we’re working hard to get one of our franchise players here for the long term. I don’t think it would be a distraction just because we do have the player for two more years so we have two years, if we can’t get it done in spring training, to get it done.”

Zimmerman reiterated on Wednesday that he’d like to get a deal done but if it doesn’t happen by Saturday he’d push discussions to next offseason.

“I think everyone knows my stance on how bad I want to stay here and how bad I want to get something done but it’s a business,” Zimmerman said. “It’s got to make sense for both sides. Obviously they’re taking a risk with having two years left and doing something like that, but at the same time I’m taking a risk coming off an injury.

“For me, it’s never been completely about money. I enjoy it here. I think when you get to a certain point, how much more could you really need? When you’re starting to talk the figures that you talk, for me, being in a place where you’re comfortable and where you enjoy being and you’re familiar with everyone is worth more than an extra, whatever, how many million a year. That’s kind of the way I feel.”