- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2014

MIAMI — Nationals manager Matt Williams shuffled his lineup for Sunday’s series-finale against the Marlins, giving several regulars a day off in their final road game of the regular season.

Ryan Zimmerman was notably among those absent from the lineup after starting the previous night for the first time in more than three months. He said Sunday morning that his previously strained right hamstring felt fine. His day off was the result of a strenuous rehabilitation process over the past week at the team’s facility in Viera, Florida, and the overall soreness that came with it.

Zimmerman was activated off the disabled list Saturday afternoon and went 2 for 3 with a triple in Washington’s 3-2 win in his return, significantly testing his hamstring in the process. In the seventh inning, Wilson Ramos hit a chopper to third base and Zimmerman raced home out of instinct. He said he pushed his hamstring harder than he had at any point in his rehabilitation process to that point.

“I’ve done a lot the last 4-5 days, and a lot of activity tonight, too,” Zimmerman said after Saturday’s game. “So [the hamstring] is going to be a little sore. But that’s normal, and that’s a good thing, because it means it’s actually working.

Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Denard Span were also left out of Sunday’s lineup. Each has played at least 143 of the team’s 154 games so far this season. Danny Espinosa started in Desmond’s place with Kevin Frandsen in left field and Nate Schierholtz in right.

After receiving a day off of his own Saturday, Bryce Harper was back in the lineup Sunday. With Span out, the 21-year-old shifted to center field. And with Werth out, he hit third in the batting order for the first time this season. In 2013, Harper took more at-bats in the No. 3 spot than every other spot in the order combined.

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