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Ryan Zimmerman will move back to third base when Bryce Harper gets healthy

Jun 12, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

Ryan Zimmerman AP

Ryan Zimmerman has been playing left field for the Nationals since coming off the disabled list last week, but manager Matt Williams made it clear that he’ll return to third base once Bryce Harper is ready to come off the disabled list himself.

Here’s what Williams told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

We got a pretty good outfielder hopefully coming back really soon. The perfect world is, Zim would go back to third, where he’s played a long time and won a Gold Glove. And when Harp’s ready, Harp will play left. That’s the plan.

Of course, “coming back really soon” in Harper’s case means early July, so it’ll be several more weeks still until it’s an actual issue for the Nationals. Zimmerman moving back to third base would also mean Anthony Rendon moving back to second base and Danny Espinosa going to the bench.

However, it may not be quite that simple because, as Kilgore writes, Zimmerman has seemed very happy with his move to the outfield and has hinted that there’s some reason to doubt if his chronic shoulder problems can still handle third base regularly. Something tells me this whole thing won’t go exactly as Williams’ “plan” suggests.

  1. voteforno6 - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    One thing I can be certain of is that, no matter what happens, Zimmerman will not complain about it. He has handled this whole thing like a real pro.

    • natstowngreg - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      IMHO, this is a big part of why Ryan Zimmerman is the Face of the Nationals. We fans appreciate not just his performance, but how he goes about his job.

  2. goskinsvt - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    If he can keep making play’s like this, he’ll be fine.

    http://m.mlb.com/wsh/video/topic/51231442/v33645421/wshsf-zimmerman-makes-a-great-diving-catch-in-left/?c_id=was

  3. yahmule - Jun 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Have Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos ever played in the same baseball game?

  4. lphboston - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Williams really has no choice in this.

    The Nats will be weakened defensive at third (Zimmerman replaces Rendon) and second (Rendon replaces Espinosa), but will be better in the outfield (Harper replaces Zimmerman).

    Inserting Harper’s bat into the lineup and removing Espinosa’s will be a quantum leap for a lineup that is already solid, and with Ramos always getting hurt, it helps to have Harper’s bat in the 3-4-5-6 area.

    Making the decision easier is the fact that Espinosa is batting under .230 and is on pace to strike out nearly 200 times, which is insane for a middle infielder.

    Of course, if Zimmerman can’t overcome the yips at third and costs some games, MWill will have to re-evaluate everything.

    • voteforno6 - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimmerman plays a few games at first, to give La Roche some rest. He’s already been taking ground balls there. We might see him in left field occasionally as well, when one of the other outfielders gets a day off.

  5. 18thstreet - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Perhaps this is the right more, and perhaps it isn’t. But the decision to announce it before he had to is a mistake.

    • karlkolchak - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      Why?

      • 18thstreet - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        He’s announcing to Danny Espinosa, for no reason, that he’s not valued.

      • pdowdy83 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        Ummm, where does he say that Espinosa isn’t needed? Espinosa was simply supposed to be the utility player when he made the roster anyhow so he should be well aware of what his role on the team is.

      • karlkolchak - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Espinosa’s offensive game has regressed to the point that he is now valuable in exactly the role he is playing this year–reserve infielder. He just got a ton of playing time due to Zim and Harper’s injuries.

        You simply can’t have a designated starting second baseman who strikes out 200 times a year. Yeah, he has a little pop in his bat, but it isn’t enough to compensate for the low average and all those Ks.

    • daveitsgood - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Well, that being said, are we or should the Nats be under the impression that Espinosa has more value than Rendon? Writing is on the wall for someone in the Nats inf, might as well be Espinosa considering Rendon is better now and has a higher upside long term.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        I’m arguing that there’s no reason to TELL Espinosa that. This isn’t about the (obvious!) observation that player A is better than player B. It’s about whether it helps the team to have the manager picking favorites.

      • daveitsgood - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Well if the manager picking favorites means picking the better players, then yes, it helps the team as the better player will be playing on the field. To your larger point, I’m sure they probably have had the discussions behind the scenes about it so Espinosa isn’t just waking up reading about it in the paper or blogs.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:06 PM

        Given the manager’s willingness to publicly embarrass his best player (“for failing to hustle”!), why do you think he’s done anything in private? All we know, for sure, is that he’s done it in public.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Picking favorite publicly, that is.

        I would hope that the manager knows which player is better. But given that Williams was batting Harper 6th — even against righties! — there’s reason to doubt that, too.

      • daveitsgood - Jun 12, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Touche’

  6. jerze2387 - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    So Harpers first game back should be “first 500 fans sitting down the first base line get a helmet” night

    • bolweevils2 - Jun 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      Can Zimmerman still throw it as far as the first base seats?

      In his defense, he looks terrible throwing, but he usually gets it there in time. It’s just not pretty.

  7. bisonaudit - Jun 12, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    When you’ve got 8 hitters for 7 positions and all but one of those guys is capable of playing more than one position, you don’t have a problem. You have options.

    • pdowdy83 - Jun 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Exactly. There is no reason Harper can’t play CF some games with Zimmerman in left and Espinosa at 2nd. Zimmerman can also play 1st some and he can play some third. What Zimmerman did for the team by learning another position during the season added a great deal of flexibility and is not something every guy with a $100mm contract would do.

    • imauggiedoggie - Jun 13, 2014 at 7:16 PM

      and, i agree ~ with harper coming back and zimmerman getting the kinks out this is perfect situation for all in that you can have ‘rest’ time for laroche, zim, harper, even werth if need be. and be still be strong with the players in place. espinosa is not a liability and with 162 games not everyone will play all ~ i think williams will have plenty of options this last half year and oh, by the way, the nats are in first with key players out.

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