In his first start of the season, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann did plenty to suggest to the Nationals that he's fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery that ended his 2009 season in August and kept him out most of last year.
But for safety's sake, the team is still going to be cautious with the 24-year-old this season, and on Sunday, manager Jim Riggleman pulled Zimmermann earlier than his work might have warranted.
Zimmermann threw just 86 pitches in six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) in the Nationals' 11-2 loss to the Braves. He could have easily pitched another inning, and might have been in line for the win if not for some poor defense from the Nationals.
Washington is planning to limit Zimmermann to something around 150 to 160 innings this year, though, so there will likely be a handful of times where he's pulled from starts early.
"He kind of found it there. He was good," Riggleman said. "He could have gone back out there a little longer, but we're trying to really look after him. Six innings was enough for him today, and we had to put it on some other people. The combination of where the ball was bouncing around and going all over the place, it just wasn't going to happen."
For his part, Zimmermann said he was fine to stay in the game for another inning, but he understood the decision to go to the Nationals' bullpen. If he averages six innings a start this year, he'll pitch in about 25 games, which would end his season sometime in August.
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