by Craig Heist

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (CBSDC) — Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was originally scheduled to be in the lineup for a split squad game against the Astros, did not make the trip with the team to Kissimmee.  Will Rhymes started in place of Zimmerman at third base.

“Zim has some general soreness,” said Nats manager Matt Williams. “It’s body soreness. He’s been working at first and he’s been doing other things, turning different ways other than what he is used to turning so we are just giving him a day.  He’s good though.”

There has been quite a bit of talk about Zimmerman getting work at first base this spring and that is still the plan for the organization.  They would like to be able to give Adam LaRoche a day off against a tough left-hander or when he just needs a day off.

Williams would like to make that happen but only when Zimmerman is ready for the move.

“As soon as we can,” he said. “I want to make sure we get him enough at bats and he feels good over there first and foremost.  He’s still doing work over there and we just want to make sure he’s comfortable over there before we get him out on the field in a game situation.  We’ll get to it eventually.”

The biggest thing for Zimmerman is the adjustment of moving all the way across the diamond and being able to do all the things fundamentally correct to be able to make a successful transition.

“Its different when you go to the other side of the diamond,” Williams said. “Everything is backwards and he is not used to doing that.  He is fine fielding the ball.  He doesn’t have an issue doing that.  He’s fine taking the throw from second, fine flipping the ball to the pitcher.  The understanding of where he needs to be on any given play is what we are working on now.   Bunt plays, cutoffs and relays, that kind of stuff.  He’s good.  He’ll get it and then we will get him in a game”


The Nationals-Astros game was televised back to Houston which gave the Nationals their first chance this spring to test out the new replay system.

In the sixth inning, catcher Jose Lobaton grounded into a double play with Lobaton at first on the back end in a rather close play.  At that point the Nationals decided to use their challenge to get a feel for the system

“We figured we better get to it at some point because you never know when you get to it, said Nats manager Matt Williams. “You want to practice. We figured that there would be a spot to practice it. It was a little inconclusive with our guys upstairs watching it.  It was a chance to practice.”

Later, in the seventh inning, with Delino DeShields Jr. batting with two outs and Jesus Guzman at first base,  DeShields hit a ball to the short stop in the hole, and was thrown out at first base, in what should have been the third out of the inning.

But Astros manager Bo Porter used his challenge, and the call was overturned, putting runners at first and second at that time.

Later, Guzman scored from third on a single by Marwin Gonzalez.

There have been some skeptics of the new rule fearing replay would slow the game down but Williams, after one day of practice is very optimistic about its use during the season.

“Well, again this is practice,” he said.  “During the season there won’t be any delay from the truck.  We will certainly have the new technology and the ability to slow it down and go frame-by-frame and all that stuff.

It won’t be that much different than it was today. Today there was a little delay from the TV feed and it’s not necessarily as good a technology as we’re going to have.  It went smoothly but we just felt like we should practice.”

Follow Craig Heist and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter.


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