by Chris LingebachBy Chris Lingebach

ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSDC) – Ryan Zimmerman’s ongoing shoulder issues have plagued his ability to make sound throws, from third base to first, on an off, for two years now.

Zimmerman raised the level of concern for his shoulder, with Nationals fans, after making another wild throwing attempt to first base on Saturday, forcing manager Matt Williams to pull his third baseman from the game.

Fortunately, an MRI exam revealed no structural damage afterward, only inflammation, which saved the Nationals from having to place Zimmerman on the disabled list.

The issues with his nagging shoulder have been well-documented, surfacing in April 2012 and eventually resulting in Zimmerman having major shoulder surgery in Nov. 2012.

No public evaluation of the extent of that injury, perhaps, had been quite as revealing as Williams’ assessment Monday evening — when speaking to Nationals fans at 106.7 The Fan’s Q&A-style “Chalk Talk” — about Zimmerman’s ailing shoulder.

Asked by a fan how he plans to balance Zimmerman’s time between first and third base, Williams revealed a detail about Zimmerman’s injury that had seemingly not yet seen the light of day, at least not publicly.

From 106.7 The Fan’s “Chalk Talk”:

“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.”

Certainly, many have speculated about the extent of Zimmerman’s injury up to this point. But nothing from Nationals personnel, it would appear, has been quite as straightforward as “Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder.”

One has to now wonder, if Zimmerman’s shoulder healing is not so much a question of when, but if and if ever.

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