We've seen him take fielding practice before games, we've talked about it for weeks, but tonight is the night Ryan Zimmerman will actually play left field in a live game.
Zimmerman will continue his minor league rehab assignment with the Single-A Potomac Nationals Saturday night by playing five innings in left field. After having four at-bats as a designated hitter the night before, it's time to see what he has at a new position.
"Tonight he'll play five innings in left field," manager Matt Williams said. "The plan is that he'll play five innings tonight of defense. He had four at-bats last night DH-wise, so he's going to have to get back in the field and play."
Zimmerman has been out since April 12 when he broke his right thumb sliding into second base in a game against the Braves. He is currently working towards a Tuesday return when the Nationals take on the Phillies.
Zimmerman has been practicing in left field during batting practice for some time now, and recently received instruction from Nats' first base coach Tony Tarasco, who works with the outfielders. Zimmerman has never played the position in a professional game, but Williams believes the former Gold Glove third baseman is prepared enough to try it.
"He's ready, Williams said. "He's done a lot of work out there, you still have to do it though. He's ready to go."
Though Zimmerman will be playing on the same side of the field as he does as a third baseman, playing outfield will certainly bring a different dynamic defensively. He has been diligent in learning the position in practice, but doing it in an actual game will certainly be different.
"There's no way to get true, real line drive-type balls. Even in batting practice you can't really simulate it," Williams said. "That's the difference, balls coming off the bat differently, certainly with more authority. Ball comes off the bat harder, quicker movements, but he's ready for that."
Zimmerman went 0-for-3 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly in Potomac's 5-4 win over Salem on Friday.