- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ryan Zimmerman’s meteoric rise from the University of Virginia to the Washington Nationals could be completed as early as today.

Zimmerman, whom the Nationals selected with the fourth pick overall in June’s draft, will join Washington “soon,” general manager Jim Bowden said.

“We’ll announce it when he’s coming up,” Bowden said. “He’s not going to be here [last night].”

Zimmerman said yesterday he has not been informed about the possibility of a promotion.

“It’s nice to hear about it and all that stuff, but the truth is you still have to go out and perform every night,” he told the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News. “The only way this stuff is coming out now is if you’re doing well, that you’re performing. But then you have to take [those comments] and forget about them, and just play.”

Bob Boone, a special assistant to Bowden, was dispatched to Binghamton, N.Y., on Monday to watch Zimmerman play shortstop for the Class AA Harrisburg Senators. Last week, Bowden instructed Senators manager Keith Bodie to move Zimmerman from third base.

Zimmerman has played seven games at shortstop, where he had four errors. He is hitting .312 with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 56 games.

Zimmerman would have to join the Nationals by next Wednesday to be eligible for the postseason roster.

“He’s played well at shortstop. He’s a Gold Glove at third. He’s going to be a good player, and he’s a player we think can help us in this pennant race. He will be here,” Bowden said.

With third baseman Vinny Castilla and shortstop Cristian Guzman mired in slumps, the Nationals can use help at both positions. The 20-year-old Zimmerman played third base the majority of his career at Virginia. He played four games at Class A Savannah (.471, two home runs, six RBI) before being promoted to Harrisburg.

“Not only did [Zimmerman] sign, but he signed quick and went out and played. And because of it he’s going to get his opportunity in the big leagues,” Bowden said.

The leadoff men

Rookie Ryan Church batted leadoff and played left field in place of Brad Wilkerson for the second straight game last night.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson, however, is not ready to make Church the everyday starter over the slumping Wilkerson, who is hitting just .184 (23-for-125) since the All-Star break.

“The only thing permanent around here is me,” said Robinson, who turns 70 next Wednesday. “It’s who I feel is going to give us the best chance to win that given day. That’s the way the lineup will be laid out, basically. If it bothers [Wilkerson], I think he’ll come talk to me. If it goes past a couple of days, I’ll talk to him.”

Robinson’s decision to start Church (.295, seven home runs, 36 RBI) last night was made easier when Wilkerson was sent home with sinusitis.

Spivey’s return uncertain

Injured second baseman Junior Spivey’s chance of returning to the Nationals’ lineup when the rosters expand to 40 players Sept. 1 appears remote.

Spivey broke his right forearm July 9 in a freak pregame batting cage accident at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

“I had X-rays last weekend, and it’s not 100 percent,” Spivey said.

Extra bases

Major League Baseball said it hopes to select a new owner for the Nationals by Labor Day and transfer control of the team by Oct. 1. Eight groups have bid for the franchise. …

Church will appear at the ESPN Zone today for a short question and answer session and autograph signing beginning at noon.

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