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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to play left field in rehab start

Ryan Zimmerman (G Fiume/Getty Images) Ryan Zimmerman has 181 home runs in 10 seasons with the Nationals. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

Gold Glove-winning third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will start in left field for Class A Potomac on Saturday night as he continues his rehab from a right thumb fracture, manager Matt Williams said before the big league team's game against the Rangers.

Shoulder injuries have limited Zimmerman's ability to throw from third base, according to MLB.com, and he has spent time practicing in the outfield in recent days preparing for the position change.

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"He's ready," Williams said. "He's done a lot of work out there. You still have to do it though. He's ready to go.

"There is no way to get true, real line-drive balls. Even in batting practice, you can't really simulate it. That's the difference, balls coming off the bat differently, certainly with more authority."

Now in his 10th big league season, Zimmerman has played a position other than third base only once — at shortstop his rookie year.

The Nationals need a left fielder with Bryce Harper on the disabled list until mid-July following thumb surgery. Zimmerman could also see time at first base.

Zimmerman went on the disabled list April 13 after he broke his thumb while diving back to second base on a pickoff attempt. He played his first rehab game on Friday, going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly as the designated hitter.

Zimmerman is hitting .364 with two homers and six RBIs in 10 games this season.

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