Nats’ Zimmerman gets in lineup, hopes to stay there
The two-time All-Star was hitless in two at-bats against Minnesota on Saturday during his first spring training game of the season. Zimmerman has appeared in at least 116 regular season games just once in the past five seasons due to injuries.
“Joking around with him a little bit I said, ‘Who are you?'” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “And he was excited to play so, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Might not play tomorrow, probably will play the next day though.”
The 34-year-old Zimmerman played only a handful of Grapefruit League games last season, taking most of his at-bats on back fields in minor league games so he didn’t have to play the field.
The measures didn’t keep him healthy. He dealt with a variety of injuries last season, including a right oblique strain that landed him on the 60-day disabled list. He hit .263 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs over 85 games.
“Two years ago I played a good amount (in spring), and that’s what I want to do,” Zimmerman said.
Martinez hopes that more spring action will get Zimmerman’s body accustomed to baseball movements and better prepare him for the long season.
“More to get out there, get down, get ready, move laterally, play some defense, see the ball off the bat — stuff of that nature,” Martinez said.
The Nationals originally planned for Zimmerman’s first action to come Wednesday, but an illness prompted a schedule adjustment.
If Zimmerman’s schedule resembles that of other Washington regulars, he’ll play every other day for the next week, building up to back-to-back games after that.
Making his second start of the spring, Patrick Corbin allowed one unearned run and two hits while striking out a batter in three innings against a Minnesota team devoid of projected starters. Eight of his nine outs came via ground balls, and 25 of Corbin’s 36 pitches were strikes.
“Today I didn’t know too many of the guys in their lineup so I kind of just worked on what I’m good at,” Corbin said. “I think as camp moves on and we start to see guys we’ll face, we’ll come up with game plans and have a better idea of what we’re trying to do.”
Closer Sean Doolittle wasn’t at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Saturday because of what Martinez termed a “family emergency.”
“I said just, ‘Hey, take care of your family,'” Martinez said. “It’s important to me. Just let me know how things go.”