Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will not travel with the team to Atlanta early this week as he continues his recovery from a sore left hamstring, Davey Johnson announced on Saturday. The Nats manager said Zimmerman will stay back to have a rehab assignment, likely Monday, before joining the team for their series at Pittsburgh beginning Friday, May 3.
Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 20 after aggravating the injury running the bases against the Miami Marlins. He has continued throwing and is now running the bases as the next step is at-bats in a live game.
“I talked to Ryan yesterday in the dugout, he came in the dugout, and he said ‘I really like how I’m feeling, where I’m at,’” Johnson said.
Johnson expects Zimmerman to start his minor league rehab assignment on Monday at “whoever’s closest.” The Potomac Nationals would seem like a good bet as they host the Carolina Mudcats on Monday and Tuesday in Woodbridge, Va.
“I think he’s planning on going on Monday,” Johnson said.
The Nats’ skipper also said catcher Wilson Ramos will join the team in Atlanta on Sunday night. Also dealing with a hamstring injury, Ramos caught with the Harrisburg Senators on Friday going 0-for-1 with a walk at the plate.
Pitching staff catching up
Last week as the Nats were in the midst of a sweep at the hand of the St. Louis Cardinals, Davey Johnson compared his struggling team to their performance at the same mark last season. Though the record was far behind, he felt his lineup was holding up their end, maintaining the pace of their first month in 2012. He thought the pitching needed to improve and re-install itself as the backbone of the team.
Since making those comments the Nats’ starters have responded over the last two games with two hits allowed total in consecutive pitching gems. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann have stepped it up, now it is time for Dan Haren to follow suit as the team continues its series with the Reds.
“Like all the guys he’s been trying to be somebody else other than who they have been. Trying to be too fine,” Johnson said.
A 91-pitch complete game by Zimmermann is exactly what Johnson is looking for in terms of efficiency.
“From a hitting standpoint, if I’m facing anybody, the more pitches they throw that miss the better chance I got to hit because I’ve had a chance to see him. I get a chance to time it, you get to see the movement and the release point, and so when he does throw it over you’re more apt to be on it.”
Johnson then turned to Haren specifically, saying he would rather see the veteran place pitches in the 80 mile per hour range, rather than fastballs in the low 90s. Through four starts Haren is averaging just over 20 pitches per inning.
“It’s location and change of speeds,” Johnson said. “The guys that come right at you, the catfish hunters that come right at you with a 85 mile per hour straight fastball, you pop it up. Every time you pop that up or hit a groundball, next thing you know and he’s got nine innings. He didn’t have much, but you didn’t get nothing. That’s pitching.”