MIAMI — After roughly seven weeks of dealing with a lingering kink in his neck, Jordan Zimmermann went for an X-ray and MRI on Friday morning. The tests revealed little, but the Washington Nationals’ right-hander has decided not to pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in an effort to rest and get past the issue. He will still attend the All-Star festivities in New York City.
“I’d rather be healthy than go up there and just pitch one inning and have the whole second half be shot,” Zimmermann said. “I think taking a few days off with no throwing, just let it all rest and settle back down, and we’ll be good to go.”
Nationals head trainer Lee Kuntz is one of the trainers selected to this year’s National League All-Star team as well, and he will be there to monitor Zimmermann during the break.
Most mornings his neck is a little stiff when he wakes up, Zimmermann said, but it loosens up as the day goes along. The same goes for days he starts, and has since the issue first cropped up in the middle of May.
He does not believe it affects his ability to pitch — and at 12-4 with a 2.58 ERA it certainly hasn’t seemed to. But it is a nuisance, particularly when he’s doing routine things on the mound like checking on a runner at first base or looking home toward the plate, and he doesn’t want it to develop into a larger issue.
“I was concerned with him last night,” manager Davey Johnson said Friday, shortly after placing a call to National League manager Bruce Bochy to inform him of Zimmermann’s condition.
“I knew that it was something that was still there. Jordan admitted it before the game to (pitching coach Steve McCatty), and he pitched a really good ballgame. (But) I’m really concerned about him. I know he had some tests done today. It’s a problem. It’s something that with rest he can probably get by… He’s having too good a year not to use this time to rest.”
Zimmermann said the tests did not reveal much of any significance, and his spine checked out fine. The doctors only recommended that he rest.
Johnson said the issue is with some of the soft tissue in the neck and the hope is with rest and some medication he will be able to put it behind him.
Johnson was firm on the point that he did not believe the issue would cause Zimmermann to land on the disabled list, but that the nagging nature of it made it something that he wanted the time off that the All-Star break affords him to get past it.
While Zimmermann still plans to attend the All-Star Game and its accompanying events, there will now be a spot open on the team for a player eligible to participate in the game.
Johnson, a coach on the National League staff, said he’d recommend to Bochy that Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are all worthy candidates.
There was no immediate word on if one of the Nationals’ players would be selected to replace Zimmermann on the team, and Bochy was returning Johnson’s call as reporters were exiting the Nationals’ manager’s office.