- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman are going to get creative to get him through the recurring right shoulder soreness that is again plaguing him.

Zimmerman, who left Saturday’s loss to the Atlanta Braves with shoulder pain and underwent an MRI on Sunday, was back on the field Tuesday taking ground balls before a game against the Miami Marlins.

The MRI showed no structural damage and Zimmerman said he hopes rest and medication will help reduce the inflammation in the shoulder that is causing him pain. A spell of warm weather would help, too. He did not receive a cortisone shot and that was not a consideration, according to manager Matt Williams.

This is not a new issue. Zimmerman had surgery after the 2012 season to repair the shoulder and was given multiple days off during spring training when the pain returned.

“We’re going to try and do whatever it takes to make it feel better and more importantly, make me be productive,” Zimmerman said. “That’s the most important thing. I don’t want to continue to hurt the team. Obviously, being able to make plays is a big part of the game. It’s going to help us win games, which is the ultimate goal. That’s the number one priority, is to win.”

But Zimmerman was using a revamped three-quarters throwing motion on Tuesday that he hopes takes pressure off his shoulder during long throws from third base. There are other ways to help get him through the season. Zimmerman admitted he will have to take fewer grounds balls and make fewer throws, something he doesn’t like to do because those repetitions help him feel more prepared for games.

“We messed around with it a little today, and it felt a lot better, throwing that way,” Zimmerman said. “I’ll take some more groundballs tomorrow like that. The hope is to get into a routine where that becomes normal and effective and kind of go from there.”

Zimmerman says the pain does not affect his swing at the plate. Williams says alternatives include using Zimmerman as a designated hitter during interleague play and playing more first base than originally expected during the season. That plan was originally about 10-to-15 games to spell Adam LaRoche, especially against left-handed pitching.

“We’ll have to continue to just look at it. If he feels fine he’s going to play third,” Williams said. “That’s what he’s done. He’s won a Gold Glove over there. We have to keep that in mind. And he’s pretty darn good at it. So if he continues to feel fine then that’s where he’ll be.”

On Monday at a “chalk talk” event with fans sponsored by radio station 106.7 - The Fan, Williams bluntly said that Zimmerman has an arthritic shoulder. That caused concerns, though the manager backed down from that word during his pre game chat Tuesday with reporters and said he should have used “degenerative.”

“Everyone in this room is arthritic. Is it probably arthritic? Yeah,” Zimmerman said. “Is there some things wrong in there? Probably, yeah. When you play this game for as long as everyone in here has, and you do the same thing as much as we’ve done, I would say that’s all it is. Is it the truth? Probably, yeah. I don’t think it’s like an arthritic shoulder where I need to take medication that you see on those commercials.”





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