Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's persistent shoulder problems have affected his throwing and made Nationals fans anxious since he began having issues in early 2012. Manager Matt Williams removed Zimmerman from Saturday's game against the Braves after a wild throw to first, and the team opted to take another look at the shoulder.
An ensuing MRI did not detect structural damage, but the presence of inflammation caused the Nats to place Zimmerman on the disabled list. On Monday night, Williams provided some insight into the cause of his third baseman's throwing woes: arthritis.
While answering fans' questions on 106.7 The Fan’s “Chalk Talk” — Williams revealed Zimmerman is suffering from an arthritic shoulder:
From the interview:
“But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say ‘Would I like Ryan to play third?’” Williams said. “Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder.”
“It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him,” he said. “So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes, in that regard, so he can go play first; he enjoys playing first; we did a little bit at spring training, worked hard at the position, and he enjoys it over there.
“So it gives us options, it gives him an option to go play first when his shoulder’s bothering him, or he needs a day, his legs need a day from playing third, or whatever it is. Those options are always there. So, do I see him moving to first? Yea, from time to time, but I would like him to be our third baseman for a long time. We have to take into account his shoulder, too. And that’s a concern. It’s a concern of his; it’s a concern of everybody else. We’re going to have to give him a break sometime.”
“We look at it and say, it’s a little bit of overload,” Williams said. “We have to curtail that just a touch to make sure that he feels good. What does that involve? Maybe it doesn’t involve as many throws. Maybe it’s cutting down on the amount of grounders he takes in pregame. I know that he looks to go down, especially when it’s cold, in the cage and throw. Maybe it’s an adjustment to that, too.”
SI.COM STAFF: MLB Power Rankings Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in November 2012. He'd relied on a series of cortisone shots to stay in the lineup, after injuring his shoulder earlier that season. He played in 147 games in 2013, but committed 16 throwing errors. Zimmerman is currently in the first season of a six-year, $100 million contract extension.