Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman sick, delaying spring training debut

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is feeling sick, delaying his debut in exhibition games.

“He came in today to see a doctor but I sent him home,” manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday. “I’m not going to take a chance with him, put him out there and let him get one or two at bats.”

Zimmerman saw most of his spring training action last year in minor league games on the back fields, and he appeared in only one big league exhibition. The 34-year-old has played in more than 115 games just once in the past four seasons due to shoulder issues, muscle strains and plantar fasciitis.

While Martinez seemed to agree with Zimmerman’s approach last spring training, he didn’t like the results — particularly defensively.

“The biggest thing for me is to get him out there on the field playing defense,” Martinez said. “I really thought that you need to be on the field, you need to move around, you need to play defense.”

Zimmerman had 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 85 games last year. He has a .279 career average with 264 homers in 14 seasons with the Nationals.

“You’re getting your legs and your body used to getting ready for every pitch, running to first base when there’s a ground ball,” Zimmerman said. “I think that’s a huge difference.”

Martinez said Zimmerman could be in the lineup Friday against Miami.

“All his workouts are good,” Martinez said. “He’s been running the bases, actually been running the bases on his own, quite a bit.”

Catcher Yan Gomes missed a day before the start of spring training games, and catching prospect Spencer Kieboom isn’t 100 percent.