ARLINGTON — Ryan Zimmerman’s baseball future hasn’t been settled yet, but on Tuesday he tried his hand at a different sport just for fun.
Zimmerman visited Washington Capitals practice, donned some goaltender equipment and squatted between the pipes to face shots from Alex Ovechkin and company.
The longtime Washington Nationals first baseman, currently a free agent, later said Nicklas Backstrom had “challenged” him to try it a few years ago. Zimmerman wields a steady glove at first base, so he figured he’d be able to stop some pucks.
“We were talking about how like, I’m like, ‘I can catch it,’” Zimmerman said. “(He said), ‘No chance!’ I’m like, ‘I’m telling you guys, I can catch the puck. I don’t know if I can do anything else.’”
Here’s how it went:
Zimmerman joked that he was glad he tried it, but will never do it again.
“Not that I needed respect for goalies, because obviously they’re crazy to begin with,” Zimmerman said. “I’ll never understand how they do it, but obviously a newfound respect for those guys.”
Braden Holtby and the skaters who took turns shooting on Zimmerman gave the ballplayer some honest grades on his performance.
“I don’t know what his skating background is or anything, but at least he was pretty balanced out there and didn’t fall over or anything,” Holtby said. “That’s more the scary part.”
“I don’t think he’ll make the team,” Alex Ovechkin quipped. “But obviously it was great to see him up there and try to do what he can can. I think he have fun and now he realize how hard it is to be a goalie.”
T.J. Oshie was impressed with Zimmerman’s glove skills, “but the rest of his game definitely needs some work.”
Zimmerman did not come to MedStar Capitals Iceplex to break any news about his baseball future. He said he’s been meeting with general Mike Rizzo and the Nationals’ front office for a few weeks now and figured something will get done soon.
“I’ve made my intentions pretty clear. They know where I stand and we know where they stand,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve been going back and forth the last couple weeks. I’m sure something will happen. It’s just a matter of time.”
The Nationals declined Zimmerman’s $18 million option for 2020 just days after the team won the World Series. Later in the winter, Zimmerman famously said he’d either play for the Nationals next year or “play more golf.”