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Zimmerman won’t return from oblique strain

Sep 29, 2015, 6:40 PM EST

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ATLANTA — It comes as no surprise at this point, but Ryan Zimmerman won’t have enough time to return from a strained oblique muscle to play before the end of the season.

Sidelined for three weeks with the ailment, Zimmerman has been trying to get himself feeling well enough to return to the field before season’s end. But he continues to feel a pull in the oblique muscle when he tries to swing, so Nationals officials have told him not to take a chance trying to make it back for this week’s final six games.

“At this point, to push him is not smart,” manager Matt Williams said. “He’ll continue to strengthen, start his offseason program and make sure he’s on that path and getting going again for next spring. But [a return this week] doesn’t look likely.”

Thus concludes another frustrating year for Zimmerman, who also missed seven weeks earlier in the summer while recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He wound up playing in only 95 games, hitting a career-worst .249 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and a .773 OPS that was 51 points worse than his career average.

That said, Zimmerman was among the most productive hitters in the league during his most-recent healthy stretch, posting a .311 batting average, 11 homers, 39 RBI and a 1.024 OPS over his final 39 games.

All that leaves the Nationals particularly frustrated by the events of the last six months.

“You look at what it could be,” Williams said. “I know he does. And he gets frustrated by it. … I know he wants to play a full season. And boy, if he can do that, it can be pretty impressive. That’s his outlook, and he’s looking forward to starting that process.”

Zimmerman has played in an average of only 110 games over the last five seasons, a prolonged run that has featured a variety of physical ailments both major and minor. He just turned 31 on Monday, and the challenge only gets greater for any player of his age to keep himself on the field through a long season.

“The only thing that I can say personally from experience: As you get older as a player, if you have an injury and take time off, then you risk something else when you come back,” said Williams, who averaged 99 games played from age 32 through 37. “Because the body just doesn’t react like it does when you’re young. So that being said, I personally would love for him to have a healthy season. It’s been frustrating for him. For him to get out there for 145 games, 150 games, and be able to play that, that would be great. And I know he would be very happy about that. You talk about production, if he can do that, then he’s a vital part of success.”

Zimmerman isn’t the only member of the Nationals’ lineup dealing with a nagging injury. Center fielder Michael Taylor was out again Tuesday after his knee swelled up. Taylor still hasn’t fully recovered from a collision with the fence at Nationals Park on August 27, with fluid building up in the knee. Williams said offseason surgery shouldn’t be necessary, but the club will be careful with him through this final week.

“It’s been much better,” the manager said. “They’ve gotten the swelling down, which is a really good sign. On occasion, if he bangs it, it’s just going to puff up. Once he gets through the season and gets to the offseason and not have those issues, the body will take care of the extra fluid that’s there. I don’t think there’s any issue with it, other than give him some rest.”

Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, has been dealing with an upper back strain and has been out of the lineup the last two days. Williams expects to have the veteran infielder back for most of the final week, with Escobar trying to finish his season strong and perhaps raise his batting average to .320.

  1. Ellie - Sep 29, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    “Zimmerman has played in an average of only 110 games over the last five seasons”

    Oh come on. You can say anything you want with statistics, can’t you? The last TWO seasons he’s played in drastically fewer games than previously, which dragged that average down. But he played in 147 in 2013 and 145 in 2012.

    I am SO tired of the “Zimmerman is always injured” meme. Yes, the last two seasons have not been great for him, but don’t pretend like this is an ongoing, long-term thing.

    • npb99 - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:05 PM

      Uh, he´s had five significant injury issues the last two years. Five. That´s a lot. The chronic shoulder problem, the hamstring, the thumb, the plantar fasciitis, and the oblique. Anyone who isn’t worried about this guy is blinded by FOF love.

      • Ellie - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:20 PM

        Did you miss the part where he played almost the entire seasons in 2012 and 2013? That’s not a chronically injured player.

      • philipd763 - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:37 PM

        In 2012/13 he did play quite a few games but his chronic shoulder injury negatively impacted his fielding and hitting.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:51 PM

        [Zimmerman’s] had five significant injury issues the last two years. Five. That´s a lot.

        Fair enough. How many is “not a lot, not few”? What should we expect from a regular major league starter, on average?

      • wskyrnr21 - Sep 30, 2015 at 6:30 PM

        I am putting on my FLAK jacket as I write this …….. whoi in their right mind signs this part time player to a long term deal?

        Decisions like this are anchors to this team. I truly think Zim is the best out there when healthy BUT better designated to the AL as a DH ………

        He has got to go …….. this is professional baseball where some like to call it a business not a love affair!

  2. philipd763 - Sep 29, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    No surprise. It is just one injury or ailment after another for RZ. This has been going on for five years. Rizzo better keep Robinson around because he will be needed.

  3. carlospaula - Sep 29, 2015 at 9:29 PM

    Seems obvious to me that Zim has broken down,,,,,No reason to think he will ever play a full season again…..a real shame

  4. janebeard - Sep 29, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    I think that he will heal this off season and come back whole and healthy. And some time off is exactly what Michael A needs to help that knee, same as Bryce needed last year, too.

  5. rgsie - Sep 30, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    I’m surprised they are even considering him for next year. This guy needs to retire.

  6. richardp6 - Sep 30, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Lots of things went wrong but losing him down the stretch really hurt. I think with he and Span in the lineup things might have been different. Tho I can’t let a post go by without blaming MW’s in game moves all backfiring. I don’t care if its his fault or not, we just need someone who’s lucky 🙂

    • akiterp - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:46 AM

      You are right. No luck. Bad karma. Negative energy.

      Despite everything (BP, starting rotation, etc), if only Zim and Span had been healthy this season … if Werth had had a spring training … this team would be contending through October. Of course you can what-if all you want but also nothing Rizzo and MW could control

      Until this past weekend when he really fell flat on his face, half of MW’s issues werejust hindsight hate. But he has had no luck. Lightning rod for black clouds. So the Nats will exercise their demons and he will be gone and things will move forward. I’d like to see Span back…Zim and Werth healthy … hopefully we can blame Tony’s issues on his health as well. Buy a bullpen, a catcher and one more for the rotation and we’ll see in 2016. Piece of cake.

  7. Candide - Sep 30, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    Hamstring and oblique. Say what you want about Desmond, but he’s had only one stint on the DL his entire career. And he’s a maniac for pre-game stretching. I don’t know how much that helps, but maybe Ryan should think about it.

  8. dcphanatic - Sep 30, 2015 at 1:03 PM

    Ryan is my favorite ball player. I have so many fond memories of his outstanding play a third base, that is before he hurt his shoulder. He is graceful on the field and when he is healthy he can carry the team offensively. When he is healthy. With him is not so much that he is hurt, but the long list of problems and maladies that he seems to have every year. Hamstrings, broken thumb, plantar fascilitis, oblique, shoulder, lower back, etc. And that has been just the last two years. When he has played 142 games or more his production has been outstanding. I am going on a limb here and predict he will turn the corner in 2016 and with a partial season under his belt at first base he will play 140+ games and have a nice Zimmerman run!

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