Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery Thursday to clean out an arthritic section of bone in the acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder, general manager Mike Rizzo said.
Zimmerman, who received four cortisone shots in the area to relieve pain and inflammation over the course of the season, should be ready to resume offseason workouts and conditioning in six weeks.
He had an MRI on Wednesday, and Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih did the procedure Thursday. Douoguih also performed arthroscopic surgery on pinch-hitter Chad Tracy’s left knee Thursday. Both players are expected to be at full strength for spring training.
Zimmerman’s issue first cropped up at the end of April. He spent the minimum amount of time on the 15-day disabled list as the team attempted to knock out the issue with two separate cortisone shots, coupled with rest.
But the slugging third baseman was hitting just .218 on June 23, had grounded into 11 double plays and had just 13 extra-base hits in 55 games.
It was a third cortisone shot, administered in Baltimore on June 24, that altered the course of Zimmerman’s season. When the Nationals chose to give him a third shot, it was with the acknowledgment that if this one didn’t take something else would have to be done — and offseason surgery was a possibility.
That shot took, however, and Zimmerman did not look back.
From June 24 through the rest of the Nationals’ 98-win season, Zimmerman hit .321 with 22 home runs, 26 doubles and 73 RBI. He slugged .584, got on base at a .383 clip and grounded into just nine double plays in 90 games.
“That was a trying time,” Zimmerman said in mid-September after he hit his 22nd home run. “It was one of those things where I didn’t not want to play. I knew I was banged up, but I was good enough to play. You kind of compound that with struggling a little bit and it kind of snowballed.
“That was about as tough a six-week stretch as I’ve ever had in my career. To be able to look up there now and know I’ve been able to battle back from that, and more importantly, can actually help the team win now, I’m pretty proud of it.”
Zimmerman received a fourth cortisone shot in the area Sept. 19 in what appeared to be a preventive strike against the inflammation returning to its earlier levels, and to help ensure the third baseman would maintain his level of production.
“He’s playing great, as far as I’m concerned,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the fourth shot. “But the results from the last time he did it were so good and he felt so much better. It’s not near as bad [as it was back in June], but it’s been acting up a little bit here lately.”
As the Nationals marched toward the National League East championship but fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series, Zimmerman remained one of their most consistent hitters. Following his fourth shot, Zimmerman hit .295 through the rest of the season with six doubles and five home runs — including a .381 average in the playoffs with two home runs.