- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ryan Zimmerman was still awaiting the results of an MRI exam taken on his right shoulder and was not in the lineup on Sunday morning before the Washington Nationals were set to complete their three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park.

Zimmerman, who has had trouble with his shoulder since the 2012 season, was taken out of the Nationals’ 6-2 loss to the Braves on Saturday during the fifth inning. The third baseman was charged with an error when he overthrew first baseman Adam LaRoche on a ground ball hit by Andrelton Simmons in the fourth inning.

Anthony Rendon, the Nationals’ starting second baseman, will move to third base, while Danny Espinosa will replace Rendon at second.

“It’s just sore,” Zimmerman, who has begun the season hitting .368, or 7-for-19, with a home run, a double, a run and three RBI, told reporters Sunday morning. “It was more sore yesterday than it usually is. The last however many years I’ve played when it felt good, I’ve played when it felt bad, and yesterday it felt worse than normal. I thought it was the right thing to tell Matt [Williams, the manager] and see what we’ve got.”

The 29-year-old first experienced discomfort in his throwing shoulder two seasons ago, but he managed the pain during the year with periodic cortisone shots. He then underwent arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint in the shoulder shortly after the season ended, but it continued to be an issue for Zimmerman last year as he committed 21 errors, second only to the 23 he committed in 2007, his second full season in the majors.

In an attempt to manage some of the stress on the shoulder, Zimmerman began taking grounders and participating in other drills at first base, where he figures to see action at some point this season for the first time in his career. He played a handful of innings at the position during spring training.

“He’s our captain on this team,” LaRoche said. “He’s a big piece of it, to say the least. To watch him go through that, it’s frustrating. We’re all behind him, to help him do whatever we can to help him out. I know it’s eating at him. That’s a guy that’s in that cage, when nobody’s around, throwing all day long. Nobody wants it worse than he does, and he’s putting the time in trying to find it.”

The Nationals also had to address another injury concern on Sunday when they played outfielder Scott Hairston on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Tyler Moore from Triple-A Syracuse. Hairston told reporters before the game that he strained his left oblique during the Nationals’ 8-2 road victory over the New York Mets on Thursday.

Two other regulars will be out of the lineup Sunday: Left fielder Bryce Harper, who is hitting just .143, or 3-for-21, during his first five games, and center fielder Denard Span, who has gone 5-for-20, or .250, with three doubles, three runs and three RBI thus far.

Their absences will force Kevin Frandsen to make his first start in the outfield since 2007, when he was with the San Francisco Giants. Frandsen, limited to pinch-hitting appearances thus far this season, last played in the outfield in 2010 when he was with the Los Angeles Angels, entering the game as a pinch runner in an 11-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on July 4.

The lineups for Sunday:

Nationals (3-2) – Anthony Rendon, 3B; Kevin Frandsen, LF; Jayson Werth, RF: Adam LaRoche, 1B; Ian Desmond, SS; Danny Espinosa, 2B; Nate McLouth, CF; Sandy Leon, C; Taylor Jordan, P (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

Braves (4-1) – Jason Heyward, RF; B.J. Upton, CF; Freddie Freeman, 1B; Chris Johnson, 3B; Justin Upton, LF; Dan Uggla, 2B; Gerald Laird, C; Andrelton Simmons, SS; Alex Wood, P (1-0, 1.29 ERA).