Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t want to overthink his throwing woes, and the Washington Nationals don’t want their star third baseman thinking too much about it, either. At the same time, interim manager Jim Riggleman realizes Zimmerman is in a throwing funk right now, and the only way to fix that is to spend extra time thinking and working on it.
So Zimmerman found himself early Friday afternoon on the field at Nationals Park, working with Riggleman on the facet of his game responsible for most of his team-high 13 errors this season.
The All-Star third baseman doesn’t often have trouble with throws following difficult plays but rather with the throws on routine plays.
“Somewhere in there, he lost his feel for his arm slot on the basic play,” said Riggleman, a former infielder. “The ball’s just not coming as good out of his hand as he knows it can and we know it can.”
Riggleman’s advice to Zimmerman: Throw the ball with full velocity overhand on every routine grounder, no matter how far the batter is down the line.
“If it’s uncatchable at first, that’s OK,” Riggleman said. “Just go ahead and fire it over there.”
Zimmerman, who has tried to downplay his high error total and not let it get in his head, said he appreciated Riggleman offering up the advice.
“It’s just his way of reaching out and talking to me,” he said. “I’m fine with it.”
No Olsen on Monday
Scott Olsen, battling soreness in the muscle behind his throwing shoulder, won’t be ready to make his scheduled start Monday.
The left-hander was examined Friday afternoon by a team doctor and is slated to get another evaluation this weekend. The Nationals haven’t decided whether he’ll be placed on the disabled list, but Riggleman said he won’t start Monday against the New York Mets as hoped.
Washington’s preference would be to use a reliever for a spot start that day, but a call-up from Class AAA Syracuse — likely Collin Balester or Shairon Martis — could be necessary.
“You’d like to [use the bullpen],” Riggleman said. “But that would mean that we’ve gotten some indication that Olsen’s going to be back soon. If we don’t get an indication that he’s going to be back soon, then we might as well bring another body in.”
Cristian Guzman was originally penciled into the Nationals’ lineup Friday, starting at shortstop and batting sixth, but he was scratched after complaining of a recurring bunion problem on the sole of his foot.
“It was really sore today,” Riggleman said. “He thinks he might be OK tomorrow, might be OK the next day, whichever. But basically day-to-day. Too tender to do too much today.”
Washington’s most consistent hitter through most of the season’s first half, Guzman has slumped this month. He has only five hits in his past 35 at-bats, a stretch that lowered his average from .320 to .301.
The slump coincides in part with the Nationals’ recent decision to bat Guzman sixth. His average this season when batting second is .379; when batting sixth, it’s .143.