Zimmerman not yet cleared to start hitting

Zimmerman not yet cleared to start hitting
May 20, 2014, 6:30 pm
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The latest X-ray of Ryan Zimmerman's right thumb showed the fracture that has sidelined him more than five weeks has not fully healed, preventing the Nationals third baseman from being able to start hitting and delaying his eventual return from the disabled list.

Zimmerman, out since fracturing the thumb on an April 12 pickoff play in Atlanta, will be allowed to start throwing after getting fitted for a splint that will protect the thumb when he grips the ball. But it may be another full week before another X-ray reveals a fully healed fracture, giving Zimmerman the green light to start hitting and ramping up his rehab program.

"You get a ball off the end of the bat, vibration can actually fracture it again because it's not fully done," manager Matt Williams said. "But at least he's able to get that splint on and do some things."

At the time of his injury, the Nationals pegged the total DL time for Zimmerman to be 4-to-6 weeks. He obviously won't be back in the lineup within the next five days, so that timetable will prove too short. Williams, though, still referred to Zimmerman's progress to date as "typical," particularly given the type of fracture he suffered.

"Everybody's different, and everybody heals differently," the manager said. "It was an interesting fracture. It wasn't just a crack straight across. It was kind of like a "Y". There's multiple things that have to heal there. Of course we'd like it to go faster. So would he. It is what it is. ... But at least he's taking the next step."

The news on fellow injured veteran Adam LaRoche is better. LaRoche, out since May 9 with a strained right quad muscle, has been able to hit and take grounders with no discomfort in his leg.

LaRoche plans to start running the bases in the next day or two and is likely to go on a short minor-league rehab assignment this weekend. Assuming no setbacks, he expects to come off the DL when eligible on Sunday.