The Washington Times - April 20, 2013, 02:42PM

NEW YORK — An issue that began as seemingly minor may have turned into something more significant for the Washington Nationals as third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was sent for an MRI on his left hamstring Saturday afternoon.

The issue began as a cramp for Zimmerman, who first showed signs of discomfort on Monday night in Miami on the basepaths, but he expressed confidence that it was a minor issue and he wouldn’t be greatly hindered by it. He came out of Wednesday’s game in the later innings, though, when he felt it tighten, and he sat out of Friday’s loss to the Mets.


As of 20 minutes before their 3:05 p.m. game against the Mets on Saturday, Nationals were awaiting the results of Zimmerman’s MRI to determine the severity of the issue.

“It’s caused him some problems, being his left leg,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who said the issue affects Zimmerman not only on the basepaths and in the field, but in the batter’s box as he appears reticent to land on the leg with his full strength when he is hitting.

“It’s really been noticeable with his hitting because he doesn’t feel real comfortable landing on the left leg and then turning off his left leg,” Johnson said. “Obviously you guys have seen him running. He hasn’t been running worth a flip.”

Johnson expressed hope that, because it did not seem to be a strain or a pull of the hamstring, Zimmerman would not need to go on the disabled list. Zimmerman, too, has said that it does not feel the same as when he’s strained his hamstring in the past, which had made him confident that it was just a cramp as well. 

But he spoke with hitting coach Rick Eckstein on Friday about the issue and he agreed that it was leading to some tentativeness in the batter’s box, which helped push him toward getting the MRI.

“I know that he’s concerned about it,” Johnson said. “He’s a gamer. He wants to play. I’m going to really leave that up to the doctors but if they have any question about it, I’d stay off him for some more length of time and hopefully get by it.

“If you don’t pull it (and it’s just a knot in there), I think it may be a week so as far as I’m concerned… (But) it’s something I don’t want to take a chance on getting worse.”

For now, the Nationals will continue to go with either Chad Tracy or Steve Lombardozzi at third base in Zimmerman’s place.

We will provide more information on the third baseman’s MRI and his status as it becomes available.