September 2, 2014

Washington Nationals Pregame: Matt Williams describes Zimmerman’s shoulder as “degenerative”

In his pregame press conference before Tuesday’s game with the Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams clarified his remarks about Ryan Zimmerman’s ailing right shoulder. Saying he misspoke, Williams said Zimmerman’s shoulder is “degenerative” as opposed to “arthritic” as he described following Sunday’s win over Atlanta.

Williams stopped short of calling the inflammation Zimmerman continues to experience — even after surgical repair — as chronic. But the team is working with Zimmerman to alter his throwing motion — once again — to an even lower arm slot to alleviate the discomfort Zimmerman continues to experience.

The Nats new skipper said that cortisone is not an option for Zimmerman at this point, though he did not rule it out in the future. Zimmerman went though an exhaustive cortisone regimen in 2012 to help him get through the season as the Nats were playing for their first chance at the MLB postseason.

Asked where Zimmerman would play looking forward, Williams said during interleague play Zimmerman would DH. He also indicated Zimmerman would start to see some playing time at first base in an effort to reduce the wear and tear on his throwing shoulder, as the discomfort is not present when he swings a bat. Williams also offered that the team would limit Zimmerman’s between game and pregame throwing. But Williams also maintained that “as long as he’s feeling good” Zimmerman would be the Nats third baseman.

What was not asked was: what if Zimmerman is feeling “good” but still not performing up to his — or MLB standards — at third base.

Just how long will the Nats allow the situation to play out? It seems, at least at this point, the answer to that question is “as long as it takes.” But the obvious situation is that a comprised Zimmerman in the field affects this team with a negative impact. They need to get this sorted out, and quickly. How many errors is acceptable? What level of reduced range at third is acceptable. Zimmerman’s sinking defensive contribution will continue to bear watching as the season unfolds.

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