WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Ryan Zimmerman will return to play third base for the majority of the time once Bryce Harper returns to the Nationals lineup from injury, manager Matt Williams told the Junkies on Friday.
It was previously uncertain how the team would utilize Zimmerman, who, upon return from the Disabled List himself, humbly made his professional debut in left field to ensure his bat would remain in the lineup, while Anthony Rendon handled third base duties.
Asked what’s going to happen when Harper comes back, Williams acknowledge the situation as a good problem for the Nationals to have.
“It’s a problem, but it’s a nice problem, because Harp’s a fantastic outfielder,” Williams said. “But I think you’re right. Where else would [Zimmerman] go?”
“He may play a little bit of first base when Roche-y needs a day off, or if for some reason there’s an opportunity to give one of the outfielders a day off — he may play left — but I would imagine for the majority of the time, he’s gonna be at third,” he said. “And he’s won a Gold Glove over there. He knows what he’s doing over there.”
“You guys, I’ve said it, and I mean it. I think that the fact the Ryan’s playing left field is a testament to how much he wants to win. Never played it before. Walked out there and said, ‘You know what? I’ll do it, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.’ And he’s been great, but it’s his first time. He did it for the team because it was a necessity and he wants to win, and he’s willing to anything he can to do that. I mean, that’s a great attitude.”
In a later interview, Zimmerman himself would go on to say he has no preference which of the three positions — third base, first base or left field — he plays, he just wants to win while the window for the Nationals to do so is still open, adding, “you never know how long it’s gonna last.”
Zimmerman has played 10 games in left field. The Nationals have gone 8-2 since his June 3 debut at the position.
He had two errors in the nine games he played at third base prior to sustaining a broken thumb on April 12, which caused him to miss 44 games while on the DL.
The plan outlined by Williams Friday lines up with an earlier report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who said on May 28, citing league sources, that the Nationals were working on a plan for Zimmerman to rotate among third base, first base and left field, “perhaps lining him to be that rare multi-positional star.”
To Williams’ point, Zimmerman been great in his short time in the outfield, perhaps not better exemplified than with the diving catch he made to end the 6th inning in the Nationals’ 6-2 victory over the Giants Wednesday night.