Nats 3B Zimmerman out of lineup; alters throwing

Zimmerman hasn't played in the field in a game since leaving Saturday's loss to Atlanta in the fifth inning because of soreness in his shoulder.

Brad Mills/Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is making some adjustments to deal with a sore right shoulder, including changing his throwing motion and practicing less to ease up on wear and tear.

Zimmerman was out of the starting lineup again Tuesday night against the Marlins — he hasn’t played in the field since Saturday. He worked before the game on making sidearm throws from third, instead of his usual over-the-top delivery, and hopes to be back at his usual spot against Miami on Wednesday.

"We’re going to try and do whatever it takes to make it feel better and, more importantly, make me be productive. That’s the most important thing. I don’t want to continue to hurt the team," Zimmerman said.

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

He said that if his shoulder feels OK on Wednesday morning, he’ll play that night against Miami.

Asked whether that’s realistic, manager Matt Williams replied: "Very realistic. If he comes in tomorrow and feels good, I’m going to put him in there. We need him to play third for us. He’s a vital piece of this team — middle of the lineup and a fantastic hitter and a fantastic defender. We want him to play every day."

The 29-year-old Zimmmerman, a 2009 NL Gold Glove award winner at third base, has been dealing on-and-off with shoulder problems for about two years, including when he got cortisone injections to help make it through 2012. After that season, Zimmerman had surgery on the shoulder. He made 16 throwing errors in 2013, although things appeared to be improving in the last couple of months of the season.

Still, there already were plans in spring training for Zimmerman to get some work at first base in 2014 before the latest issues cropped up.

Williams said Tuesday that he envisions using Zimmerman as a DH in interleague games and "playing some first base during the course of the season, potentially."

Zimmerman left Saturday’s loss to Atlanta in the fifth inning because of soreness in his shoulder. An inning earlier, his second throwing error of the season led to a pair of unearned runs. He was used as a pinch hitter Sunday, and the team was off Monday.

He acknowledges he’ll need to ease the load on his shoulder by cutting back on work between games.

"It’s going to be hard for me. My whole career … I’ve always been a guy who likes to hit a lot, likes to throw a lot, likes to take a lot of ground balls. It makes me feel prepared for the game," Zimmerman said. "Times have changed a little bit now. I’m going to have to adjust."