Two of the shining stars in the Washington Nationals’ lineup are Ryan Zimmerman and Jordan Zimmermann. Ryan was the 2009 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner at third base, while Jordan is proving to be a consistent and reliable starting pitcher despite being out for most of last season due to Tommy John surgery.
Ryan Zimmerman has a career batting average of .289 since he began his major league career with the Nationals in 2005. He is a true franchise player who displays genuine leadership qualities and a high level of maturity both on and off the field (and he looks great in GEICO commercials).
Ryan missed a few days of action during Spring Training this year because of an abdominal strain which he ended up aggravating early in the season. This required abdominal surgery, which caused him to miss over 50 games in May and early June. Upon his return, Ryan has learned a whole new way of throwing, especially when he has to throw across the diamond. This has led to Ryan committing several uncharacteristic errors, but he has definitely shown some improvement in the past couple of weeks. Suffice to say his throwing arm is back to normal (no awards for him this year, but there is no doubt that he can perform to the level of 2009 for years to come, especially since he’s only 26 years old). His range of motion when covering third base is impressive, as well as the speed he has when he cleanly fields a ball.
Ryan is currently on a 14-game hitting streak and his presence in the lineup as well as in the clubhouse definitely has a positive effect on the rest of the Nationals’ players. (My son, by the way, loves how Ryan has that front leg kick when he’s getting ready to swing the bat. And my daughter has noticed that he no longer chews on his fingernails while in the dugout).
Jordan Zimmermann has proven that you can definitely come back after Tommy John surgery and be successful. Zimmermann became the first Nationals/Expos pitcher to win his first two starts of his career (2009) since Randy Johnson did so in 1988. Zimmerman’s season ended on the disabled list due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.
After surgery and rehab, Jordan came back last August in a limited capacity. Zim has had his innings closely monitored and will probably only make three or four more starts this season. Next year after a full recovery, he will be one of the leaders in the Nationals’ starting rotation. Jordan is 7 and 9 this year (might have 8 wins if not for a blown save by Drew Storen last week against the Braves) with an ERA of 3.12. I think Jordan would greatly benefit from playing some winter ball to strengthen his arm and be ready for next year, where he can hopefully be joined by Stephen Strasburg and provide some optimism for Nationals fans in 2012 and beyond.
Speaking of Strasburg… my husband and I will be going to see him pitch a couple of innings on Sunday’s game in nearby Hagerstown, where he is expected to begin his “official” rehab assignments. Personally, I don’t think they should bring Strasburg back to the majors this year – the Nationals are not contenders, and for someone who throws as hard as he does, he should be in no hurry to make a comeback. Strasburg could also benefit from playing some winter baseball and should just wait until next spring to return to the majors. I know this doesn’t put fans in the seats like GM Mike Rizzo wants, but if he comes back too soon it can be potentially career-ending.
Anyway, I’ll let you all know how Stephen Strasburg does in Hagerstown, and hopefully I will have some pictures to share.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.