Posted on July 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
For the second time this season, foot problems have sent Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the Injured List. The club placed the 34-year-old Zimmerman on the 10-day IL prior to Monday’s game against the Rockies. The move comes a day after Zimmerman left a game early because of discomfort in his right foot.
Zimmerman was able to leg out an infield single in the 2nd inning of Sunday’s loss to the Braves. However, he was in obvious pain after pushing himself to get down the line quickly. Zimmerman told reporters after the game that the issue is a recurrence of the plantar fasciitis issue that kept him on the IL for two months earlier this season.
“The last three or four days or so have been the best it’s felt,” Zimmerman said Sunday. “It kind of started to, not turn a corner where its completely gone, but definitely feel like I can be a little bit more athletic and do some things. But, yeah, it’s frustrating. Been feeling better at the plate and been starting to get back into it a little bit, and then for it to act up again.”
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Amidst the two stints on the IL, Zimmerman has played just 33 games this season. He’s hitting .246 with an OPS of .700. But he’s been starting to play better as of late. In his last nine games before going on the IL Monday, the veteran was hitting .333 with an OPS of .814. He looked as though he was going to make a positive impact for the Nationals as they push for a playoff spot during the second half of the season. Obviously, those plans are now on hold.
The Nationals haven’t given any indication on when they expect Zimmerman to return from this latest setback. But if he misses two months as he did after going on the IL in late April, this injury could all but end his season. With this being the last year his contract is guaranteed, this could be the end of Zimmerman’s time with the Nationals.
If Zimmerman doesn’t make it back, it would be a crushing blow to Washington. The Nationals have worked hard to get back in the playoff race, albeit without Zimmerman available for a long stretch. But they were surely hoping that his veteran presence could help guide them down the stretch.
The silver lining is that Washington grew accustomed to life without Zimmerman in May and June. Matt Adams figures to get most of the playing time at first base while Zimmerman is out. He’s had a solid season, posting an OPS of .779 despite hitting just .232. Howie Kendrick could also see some action at first base. He’s excelled in a part-time role this year, hitting .318 with an OPS of .911.
Losing Zimmerman is by no means a deal-breaker for the Nationals. In fact, Washington began Monday on top of the crowded National League Wild Card race. But any time you lose a veteran in the middle of a playoff race, it hurts. Zimmerman was also starting to heat up with the bat and had proved over the past two seasons that he can still play at a high level. It’s far from over, but getting to the playoffs just got a little more difficult for the Nationals.