- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ryan Zimmerman has a small tear in his left shoulder, and though it hasn’t been determined yet whether the Washington Nationals third baseman will require surgery, the club will place him on the disabled list.

An enhanced MRI taken of Zimmerman’s injured shoulder yesterday revealed a small tear of the labrum. Team orthopedist Ben Shaffer, who performed the MRI, is recommending that he rest and take anti-inflammatory medication, but the club has sent copies of the MRI to three renowned orthopedists (James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., Tim Kremchek in Cincinnati and Robert Cofield at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.) and hopes to receive recommendations from each today.

Until then, the Nationals won’t decide a course of action for Zimmerman or set a timetable for his return.

“We don’t have enough information to make a conclusion at this point,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “I’ve seen this injury before where with another five to seven days of rest he could be ready to go. I’ve also seen where the player had to be operated on.”

For now, Washington will place Zimmerman on the 15-day DL (retroactive to May 26, the day after he last played) and recall outfielder/infielder Kory Casto from Class AAA Columbus to take his roster spot.

Zimmerman originally hurt himself sliding into second base May 18 at Baltimore, but he remained in the Nationals’ lineup for another week before taking a seat on the bench. Manager Manny Acta decided to give him the day off for the final game of the club’s last homestand (May 26 against the Milwaukee Brewers) and hoped his No. 3 hitter would return for a week-long trip to San Diego and Arizona.

But Zimmerman never appeared in any of those games on the road. After he experienced more pain while taking batting practice Saturday, the club decided to have him undergo the MRI.

This is the first time the 23-year-old will go on the DL in his professional career. He had surgery last offseason to repair a broken hamate bone in his left wrist but was healthy before the start of spring training.

Regarded as the face of the franchise practically from the moment he was selected fourth overall in the 2005 draft, Zimmerman insisted all along that he could have played through the injury if needed. The Nationals, though, appear to be taking a more cautious approach with their budding star.

“We’re not looking for a short-term solution here,” Bowden said. “We’re going to do our homework and get the best information to make the right decision for him and for the club.”

Meanwhile, first baseman Nick Johnson, already on the DL with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, will remain in a cast for another two weeks because of lingering pain.

Johnson, who went on the DL on May 15, was supposed to have his cast removed yesterday. But Shaffer, after examining the wrist, determined it needs another two weeks to heal. Rehabilitation options will be determined at that point.

Zimmerman joins Johnson, catcher Paul Lo Duca, second baseman Ronnie Belliard and right fielder Austin Kearns as members of Washington’s Opening Night lineup now on the DL.

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