WASHINGTON — With Ryan Zimmerman nursing a “sore something” and unable to play tonight, the Washington Nationals find themselves in the precarious situation of having just three healthy bats on the bench.
This comes after the team swapped Jonathan Papelbon, back from the disabled list, for centerfielder Michael A. Taylor, who was optioned to AAA.
Skipper Dusty Baker said the initial move would probably require an additional move before the end of the 10-day window in which Taylor is barred from returning. Now, that timeline is likely accelerated:
Zimmerman is said to have hurt himself on a swing yesterday and there is no timeline for his return. If Zimmerman needs additional time, the team could consider a DL stint for the veteran.
“We didn’t want to go into this series short in the first place,” Baker told the media. “We hadn’t been short all year. We rely on our bench, so we just have to make a decision to alleviate that shortness on our bench here soon.”
For what it’s worth, general manager Mike Rizzo classified the injury as a “minimal level of concern.”
The team will reassess the situation on Friday.
An injury could prompt the team to recall Taylor early, or a move for another infielder like Trea Turner or Chris Bostick. Both are on the team’s 40-man roster and would not require an additional move to promote.
Turner has handled his demotion well, hitting .326 over his last 10 games at AAA. Bostick is a true utility player, logging time at all three outfield positions, as well as second base, third base and shortstop. He has a batting line of .284/.350/.462 between AA and AAA this season.
In the meantime, Clint Robinson has been pressed into the starting lineup, leaving a three-man bench of righty Chris Heisey, switch-hitting Jose Lobaton, and lefty Stephen Drew. The Nats will be cautious about using Lobaton, as he is the team’s only backup catcher.
The real shame is that Zimmerman was just starting to find his stride at the plate. He had two hits, two runs, and two RBIs in the last game against Milwaukee.
“We felt that he was just getting going. But we have to deal. It is what it is,” Baker told the media. “Hopefully, we don’t miss him for too long. We’re trying to prevent him from him being out an extended period of time. Because you just had a feeling his time is coming.”