July 5, 2010 10:37 am
By Miss Chatter
Jordan Zimmermann makes his first rehab appearance with the Potomac Nationals July 3, 2010 More Photos
Strasburg versus Zimmermann cage match. How do you choose between two young promising pitchers for the Nationals when both start on the same day, one in Nationals Park and the other on a minor league field half an hour south? I was torn about which game to attend Saturday. I hadn't missed a home start by Stephen Strasburg yet, but I didn't want to miss Jordan Zimmermann's first rehab appearance on the road back from Tommy John surgery either, knowing it wouldn't receive nearly the same amount of media coverage. That fact alone made my decision for me and I headed south, catching the Strasburg game on television instead.
Despite how rarely I get to them, I love minor league games. The intimacy of the smaller stadium and the goofy between-inning antics add to the charm. So it's always a treat to head down to Woodbridge for a Potomac Nationals (aka Baby Nats) game to catch a rehabbing major leaguer and see some of the other prospects down on the farm. I should warn that my track record at the 'Pfitz' isn't too hot. The only other visits to the single A club for games were to see John Patterson (SP) and Johnny Estrada (catcher) on rehab assignments. I don't think you could say their careers experienced a great resurgence afterward. So it is my great hope that I didn't somehow condemn Zimmermann by my visit.
The game against the Blue Rocks started off well. First off, not a peep of an 'O!' could be heard during the National Anthem. Refreshing! I guess Woodbridge, VA is far enough south of Baltimore for that 'tradition' to not have infiltrated. Second, I noted they do still sell horns in the gift shop, and even better, my kids did not notice. The stadium was nearly packed for J-Zimm's start and while his outing was short out of precaution, most fans stayed beyond the final out in the P-Nats win for the fireworks after the game. The lights slowly warmed up and blinked back on following the fireworks so kids could run the bases. Even with all that, we were returning to the car shortly after 9:30 PM, so an efficient game played out to boot.
Jordan Zimmermann, drafted out of Stevens Point, Wisconsin in the 2nd round of 2007, showed extreme promise during his stint in the majors last season before the elbow injury sidelined him. If his rehab progress continues smoothly, his return to the Nationals rotation could be just what the doctor ordered for the later half of this season given the injuries and struggles currently plaguing the major league club.
Zimmermann's first two strikes to leadoff Blue Rock Jarrod Dyson quickly netted him an 0-2 count. I wasn't privy to the radar gun readouts in front of us, but Zimmermann never appeared frustrated. Dyson lined Zimm's fourth pitch to right field for a double. Zimmermann fielded the second batter's sacrifice bunt that advanced the runner to third, and snagged the third batter's come-backer to him before inducing a groundout to short to end the inning without the runner scoring. In his second and final inning of work, Zimmermann again allowed a hit, a single, to the first batter before getting a flyout to right and a double play to end the inning. Blink. Over. He threw 25 total pitches with 16 for strikes. Not bad. Aside from the two hits, he allowed no runs, no walks, and didn't get any strikeouts.
Single A ball is all about the development of major league skills and instincts for young baseball players as they begin their careers and move up the ladder of the minor league clubs. It appears some players have attended the Tony Plush school of game winning celebrations and passed with flying colors. After the P-Nats beat the Blue Rocks 4-2, outfielder Mike Burgess and another player performed the body slam in lieu of a high five.
Left June 8, 2010 - Washington Nationals outfielders Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina celebrate their team's 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a baseball game in Washington -AP Photo
Right July 3, 2010 - P-Nats players celebrate a win over the Blue Rocks -MissChatter