- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In a little more than 2 1/2 years with the Washington Nationals, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has come to appreciate the responsibility of being in the lineup every day. So a day after the team sent him to the disabled list for the first time in his career, it was easy to see that gnawing at him.

Zimmerman gave no timetable for when he might return from the disabled list yesterday but said he was “upset” and “frustrated” that his torn labrum would prevent him from helping the Nationals end their offensive woes.

He is one of five Opening Day starters on the disabled list, joining Paul Lo Duca, Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns and Ronnie Belliard.

“To have so many people get hurt, it’s really not where our team is,” Zimmerman said. “We don’t want to be portrayed as the kind of team like we’ve been playing lately. “We have a lot of pride. I think it kind of takes a hit out of you.”

The team sent Zimmerman’s MRI results to three outside sources.

Dr. James Andrews and Cincinnati Reds medical specialist Dr. Tim Kremchek said Zimmerman should be re-examined after a week of taking anti-inflammatory medication. The team is still waiting for an opinion from Dr. Robert Cofield at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Zimmerman didn’t rule out surgery but said he only would want to have a minor enough operation that he could play the rest of the season before getting more work done.

A long recovery could cost him; Zimmerman is entering his first year of arbitration after this season and has talked with the Nationals about a long-term contract.

“I know, and that’s one thing Jim [Bowden] has told me over and over again. He wants me to be here for a long time,” Zimmerman said. “You guys know I want to be here and play here for a long time. There’s no reason to maybe go out and do something to make it worse.”

Zimmerman ended April hitting .233 but batted .289 with five home runs in May.

Kory Casto was called up from Class AAA Columbus in Zimmerman’s place and started in right field last night against the Cardinals. Casto, who had played right field for the Clippers, said that was his natural position growing up. But manager Manny Acta said Casto likely will get some time at third base.

MRI for Chico

Left-hander Matt Chico, whom the team optioned to Columbus on May 23, had an MRI on his left elbow and forearm yesterday in Buffalo, N.Y. Chico, who surrendered four runs on seven hits while throwing three wild pitches in his only start for the Clippers, had battled tightness in his forearm.

He will miss his next scheduled start Thursday, and the MRI results are expected back today.

Wagner starting rehab

Right-hander Ryan Wagner, who had surgery last June to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, joined the team yesterday and will start throwing in simulated games this week. He will begin a rehab assignment once the Nationals begin their nine-game road trip June 10.

“I’ve got to think I’m close,” Wagner said. “I mean, they wouldn’t send me on a rehab assignment if I wasn’t.”

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