VIERA, Fla. — Jordan Zimmermann can be forgiven if this isn’t his favorite time of year. When he gets behind that L screen and readies to throw live batting practice, his mind delivers a few harsh flash backs.
It was, after all, a live batting practice session in 2007 when Zimmermann, then a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was struck with a line drive while throwing batting practice in an indoor cage.
His jaw was broken in two places and wired shut to help it heal.
Zimmermann missed just three games — and dropped 10 pounds as a result of the wiring — and there have been plenty of occasions when the incident is used as an example of how tough the Wisconsin-native is. And he is. He’s stocky, strong and the type of talent the Nationals envisioned he’d be when they plucked him in the second round draft.
Still, live batting practice has always carried with it a little extra dread for Zimmermann. He’ll do it, take is medicine for eight minutes and get on with the rest of his workout, but he’s not a huge fan. That’s OK with the Nationals as long as it doesn’t change the way he goes about his business on the mound during games.
“He’s very focused,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Zimmermann this spring. “He’s in a good frame of mind — and strong as a bull.”
With all of the hoopla this spring training about Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, Zimmermann’s been kind of the forgotten man. At least, as forgotten as a power right-hander who finished the 2011 season with a 3.18 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 161 1/3 innings, can be.
That’s just fine for Zimmermann, who is generally a man of few words. Johnson even joked last week that Zimmermann is “more open” to him this year.
“I’m actually getting a couple sentences (out of him),” Johnson said.
– The Nationals will take live batting practice on three fields this morning as they condense their workout in the hopes of getting it all in before forecasted rain hits the area.
Zimmermann will throw in a group with Chien-Ming Wang, Brad Lidge and Ryan Mattheus.
Edwin Jackson, Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Clippard and Ryan Perry will throw live batting practice on another field and John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Matt Purke and Waldis Joaquin will throw in the final group.