The Washington Times - May 22, 2012, 06:47PM

PHILADELPHIA — Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went through his entire pre-game routine Tuesday, expecting to play. But then manager Davey Johnson mentioned he’d like to try and get him a day off sometime soon and soon became immediately.

Still dealing with some soreness in his right shoulder, Johnson wasn’t prepared to take any risks with his No. 3 hitter.

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“He wanted to play,” Johnson said. “And I said: ‘You ain’t playing.’ He said: ‘No, I want to play.’ I said: ‘We’ve got a chance here to give you off today, I’ll play you tomorrow and then you’ve got another day off. We want to nip that thing in the bud. You’re too valuable to me. I know you want in there. And believe me, I want you in there.’

“But it bothered him a little yesterday, and it was bothering him a little today, and I said, ‘No way. I’ll lose this battle. But I don’t want to lose the war.’”

After the Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Phillies, Zimmerman said he felt “fine” and downplayed any issues he’s been having with the shoulder. The two certainly had a lively debate about the topic before it was decided that Zimmerman would not play, but both were also in agreement that he would be back in the lineup on Wednesday in the series finale with the Phillies.

Zimmerman missed 13 games earlier this season with inflammation in the right AC joint in his shoulder. Since coming off the disabled list on May 8, thought, Zimmerman has slowly begun to round into form at the plate. He’s hit .273 with a .365 on-base percentage and .364 slugging percentage. He hit his second home run of the season (and first since coming off the DL) on Saturday in the ninth inning. 

“It’s not even in the same region as the other one,” Zimmerman said. “It’s just general soreness. I took BP. I did everything I usually do today to play a game and then Davey just wouldn’t let me play. He’s the boss I guess.”

“Obviously it was very precautionary,” Zimmerman continued. “You want to play every game. That’s the way it is. If we would have just talked about it yesterday and had the day off from the beginning, it wouldn’t even really be a big deal. I went through everything I usually go through before I play a game and everything went fine.” 

The Nationals are at the start of a brutal stretch in their schedule in which they play divisional opponents in 18 games and 13 more against the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays. Johnson has no desire to go through it without Zimmerman. 

“We’re in a war here,” Johnson told Zimmerman. “We can lose this battle, but I need you… if we’ve got a chance to nip this thing in the bud, I’m nipping it in the bud.”

Original post: Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch Tuesday night, due to what the Nationals’ termed a “manager’s decision.” The third baseman appeared to be fine in the clubhouse pre-game but roughly 35 minutes before gametime, it was announced that the team had a lineup change. Chad Tracy will play third base and bat third in Zimmerman’s place.

A Nationals spokesman said that Zimmerman could be able to pinch hit but he would not start against Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Zimmerman missed 13 games earlier this season with inflammation in the right AC joint in his shoulder.

Since coming off the disabled list on May 8, thought, Zimmerman has slowly begun to round into form at the plate. He’s hit .273 with a .365 on-base percentage and .364 slugging percentage. He hit his second home run of the season (and first since coming off the DL) on Saturday in the ninth inning. 

The Nationals scratched right fielder Jayson Werth due to a “manager’s decision” on April 29 in Los Angeles with what turned out to be a migraine-like headache that, ultimately, the team believed to be a virus working its way out of Werth’s body. 

We’ll have more information on Zimmerman after the game. For now, Tracy, who turned 32 on Tuesday, will step in. He is 1-for-4 lifetime against Halladay with one walk.