The Washington Times - May 5, 2012, 12:22PM

Washington Nationals’ third baseman Ryan Zimmerman threw and hit off a tee for the second straight day on Saturday, and then hit about 30 balls flipped to him by a coach. He came out of the workout feeling extremely encouraged and without any pain in his previously inflamed right AC shoulder joint.

“Nothing hurt yesterday, but I felt way better today than I did yesterday,” Zimmerman said. “Whenever you come back from something, you’re a little cautious at first, but it’s pretty much 100 percent today, swinging at the flips, and it felt fine.”


Zimmerman will hit soft-toss flips again on Sunday and then, assuming he continues to improve, will take live batting practice. Activation from the disabled list will be imminent at that point. Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Zimmerman as soon as he can complete his full, normal pre-game routine, the manager is ready to get his third baseman and No. 3 hitter back.

“I would doubt to play Sunday,” Zimmerman said. “Just because it gives us Monday (a scheduled off day) to do another BP and, hopefully everything goes good the next two days, and I’ll play Tuesday. Unless I come out tomorrow and just feel unbelievable, feel absolutely nothing, there’d be a chance, but it’s kind of silly to rush it.”

Zimmerman last played on April 20 before the soreness he felt in his right shoulder, which came from several diving plays he’d made this season in the field, became severe enough he felt he’d need a day off. The Nationals tried to avoid a stint on the disabled list, keeping Zimmerman on the active roster until April 28, but a second opinion from Dr. Neil ElAttrache in Los Angeles that more rest would be required ultimately placed him there. 

The Nationals, who called up Bryce Harper when Zimmerman’s spot on the roster opened, are 6-5 without him thus far this season. Harper’s RBI Thursday night was the team’s first out of a starter hitter in the No. 3 spot since April 19, one game before Zimmerman vacated the starting lineup. 

Zimmerman shrugged his shoulders when asked if there was anything he could do, once he returns, to guard against a similar injury in the future.

“Not unless you want me to stop diving for balls,” he said. “I mean, these things are just things that happen. If you play enough games, you’re going to get hurt. Unfortunately I had to miss some time. Sometimes you can play through them. It’s better this way (to take the time to heal). It’s frustrating but it was the right thing to do.”