- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

Back to work

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman was back at Nationals camp Saturday, $3 million richer than he was when he left two days earlier.

The 24-year-old third baseman, who agreed to a one-year, $3.325 million contract shortly before his scheduled arbitration hearing in Phoenix, sounded ready to get back to baseball as he sat at his locker at Space Coast Stadium.

Zimmerman said he’s interested in trying to sign a long-term deal before Opening Day. Although he can’t become a free agent until after the 2011 season and might be better off waiting until the economy improves, the “face of the franchise” thinks there’s good reason to get a deal done now.

“It just gets to the point where you think: How much do you really need, and do you really want to be here?” he said. “That’s the most important thing. The whole point of being a free agent, and the whole point of having the negotiating power, is to play where you want to play. I don’t really need to go anywhere. I’m happy to be here. It’s just a matter of getting the figures right.”

Wagner impresses

Forgotten not long ago by the organization and by fans, right-hander Ryan Wagner is back and making a case to be part of Washington’s bullpen.

The reliever, 26, hasn’t pitched in the majors since suffering a major shoulder tear in 2007. Upon returning last season, he posted a 5.68 ERA at Class AAA Columbus. But he’s fully healthy now and dazzled onlookers Saturday while facing live batters.

“I feel as good as I’ve felt since ‘04,” said Wagner, a former first-round pick of the Reds. “I feel like I’m back to myself.”

- Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Jose Rijo [DOWN]

Is this first of several shoes to drop?

World Baseball Classic [DOWN]

Cabrera, Martis, Bernadina pull out of event

Autograph seekers [DOWN]

Dudes, Jordan Zimmermann is not Ryan Zimmerman

OVERHEARD

“Yeah, if you go to one of these places here and start dancing naked on top of a table in the first week. Regardless of who you are, you might lose your job.”

- Manager Manny Acta, when asked if anyone could win or lose a roster spot this early in camp

SUNDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Rain/snow, 40 degrees

Viera: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Sunday: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

Monday: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

Tuesday: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

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