Ryan Zimmerman was out of the Washington Nationals’ lineup Tuesday as they opened a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Manager Davey Johnson said it was a planned day off for the third baseman, piggybacking off a team off-day Monday to give Zimmerman extra rest for some discomfort in his right shoulder.
Zimmerman, who had surgery this past offseason to alleviate inflammation in his acromioclavicular joint and other minor fraying in the shoulder, was not in the Nationals’ clubhouse when it was open to reporters and he did not partake in on-field batting practice.
Johnson cautioned that Zimmerman was simply getting some time to rest. He is expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday against Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley.
“Zim’s fine,” Johnson said. “A few days ago he was having a little discomfort in his shoulder and he was looking for a spot where maybe I could give him a couple days off. Kind of earmarked giving him one after the off-day. He’s going to be available to pinch hit if I need him. It’s nothing different than I was doing for the other guys.”
Zimmerman was on a throwing program to rebuild the strength in his shoulder for much of the spring, and that has continued into the season as he works to return to a more natural throwing motion.
Zimmerman, who received multiple cortisone shots in the shoulder during the 2012 season that kept him on the field but essentially numbed him to the pain, expected that he’d need to continue to work on his throwing throughout the season. Johnson figured all that extra work may play into some of the fatigue he’s feeling in his shoulder.
Johnson said Zimmerman is “taking some medication just to calm it down. That’s just normal.”
While Zimmerman’s throwing has come under significant scrutiny this season as he’s made several errant throws — and they’ve often come back to haunt the Nationals — his defense has improved of late. He has not committed an error in any of the past 12 games and has made only three since May 17.
“He does a whole lot of throwing, even during a ballgame,” Johnson said. “When you do that much work, sometimes you can get a little, I don’t want to call it dead arm, but something like that.
“I said in the spring that with as hard as he’s been working with it it was going to take him at least until the middle of June to where he’d get over the hump with his shoulder. I think we’re pretty close.”