- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2014

MIAMI — Ryan Zimmerman only collected one hit in seven at-bats Thursday in Washington’s instructional league in Viera, Florida. But in a way, that was actually a positive step in his recovery from a right hamstring strain.

“He hit a couple balls to short and kind of had to go, which is a good thing for him,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “We all want him to get a million hits, but those are probably more important, just to test the leg.”

Zimmerman ran at about 85 percent of his full speed, Williams said, and his rehabilitation plan is on schedule. The infielder and left fielder will play seven innings in left field Friday, and could rejoin the Nationals in Miami as early as Saturday.

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Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since July 23 and the Nationals are hopeful he will be back in the dugout during their first postseason game Oct. 3. But with the nature of hamstring injuries, nothing is certain.

“It depends on how he feels,” Williams said. “He’s sore, overall body sore, because it’s like Day 4 of spring training. Day 4 of games, everybody gets sore. So we’ll just have to work through it, make sure that he’s okay.”

LaRoche gets a day off to rest his back

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One day after the Nationals fielded only reserves after clinching the National League East, Adam LaRoche was the only regular starter absent from Thursday’s lineup.

Williams said LaRoche approached him earlier in the day and asked for the day off to rest his ailing back, which, while improved, has bothered him for more than two weeks.

LaRoche unexpectedly entered a game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Sept. 3, and proceeded to hit a solo home run and drive in five runs in an 8-5 win in 14 innings. That sparked a torrid stretch at the plate, during which Williams was hesitant to take him out of the lineup.

“So the day in L.A. made it such that he was going to play every day from there on because he just started to go off,” Williams said. “He never really got a chance to just calm it, given that game. … So we’re going to give him another day just to make sure.”

With two straight days of rest, Williams said LaRoche believes he will be ready to play the remainder of the regular season and throughout the postseason.

Nationals acquire Florimon, designate Perez for assignment

The Nationals claimed shortstop Pedro Florimon off waivers from the Minnesota Twins and designated outfielder Eury Perez for assignment.

Originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 as an amateur free agent, Florimon split time this season between Minnesota and Triple-A Rochester. He is known as a slick defensive shortstop who has struggled at the plate. He hit .092 in 86 plate appearances with the Twins this season. In 2012, he played 134 games but hit only .221.

Perez, who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, saw little playing time with the Nationals, recording only two big-league hits in 13 at-bats.

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