- The Washington Times - Monday, April 7, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

OK, time for another show of hands, this one for Nationals fans or anyone else who regularly watches the team play: How many of you cringe, cower, duck, close your eyes, turn away or otherwise not watch whenever a groundball is hit to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman?

Exactly as expected. That would be most everyone these days.

Someone once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We’ve come to that point with Zimmerman.

This hasn’t been going on for a couple of weeks or a few months. This has been going on for more than two years. He’s had surgery, he’s had shots, he’s had rest. He’ll go a while without trouble and then the throws start spraying again. Is it mental? Is it physical? Is it both? Who knows?

**FILE** Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman makes a throwing error with two outs iin the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on Saturday, April 13, 2013, in Washington. The error led to a two-run home run by the next batter, Evan Gattis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
**FILE** Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman makes a throwing error with two ... more >

What is known is it is there and a simple truth has to be accepted. Ryan Zimmerman can’t reliably throw anymore and it is a problem the Nationals must figure out — soon.

To say anything negative about a player and top-notch individual like Zimmerman is very hard.

He was the first player the Nationals took in the draft after the team relocated to Washington, chosen out of the University of Virginia with the fourth overall pick in 2005. He made his debut later that summer and is the only player to appear in at least one game every year the Nationals have existed.

Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond have all come along since, yet Zimmerman is still rightfully considered the face of the franchise. You could not ask for a better face. In addition to being an excellent player, he is by all accounts a solid citizen.

Without question, the Nats still need him in their lineup and want him in their lineup. He hasn’t had a Hall of Fame-type career. He’s made one All-Star team, won one Gold Glove, won two Silver Sluggers. He’s still among the better players in the game and we don’t have enough space to list all the times he’s delivered in crucial situations.

None of that changes the fact that his throwing problems are unlikely to go away.

Six games into a season isn’t enough time to reach many conclusions. A couple of things are already clear. One, the throwing problem still exists. Two, anyone who expected Atlanta to wither and die because it lost a couple of pitchers for the season is a fool.

Atlanta remains a very strong team even without Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy and a big reason is its pitching depth. The Braves have lost two games. They gave up two runs in each. They will be even better when the offense comes around.

The NL East is most likely going to come down to Washington and Atlanta and it will be tight, a couple of games at most.

Can the Nats afford to have two or three games get away because Zimmerman sails a throw at the wrong time?

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