The Nationals are working on a plan for Ryan Zimmerman to rotate among third base, first base and left field once he returns from the disabled list, perhaps lining him to be that rare multi-positional star, league sources said.
The Nationals have yet to announce their plans, but Zimmerman has been taking balls in the outfield in preparation for the transition, as was noted recently in the Washington Post and other D.C. media outlets. It's quite unusual for a star player such as Zimmerman to agree to such a transition, but he is said to believe he can aid the team and his own career with added versatility. The team wants to make sure he's available to bat third, fourth or fifth every day once he returns. It's uncertain how often he'd play the outfield, but that may depend on the play of teammates; the injury-plagued Nats have played only around .500 ball and are currently 25-26.
Zimmerman has missed 40 games since suffering a broken thumb, but the real issue as he works to return is an arm that has hampered his throwing from third base since returning from major surgery in 2012. While he's still an excellent gloveman at third, the throwing issue has been on the table off and on in the last couple years. Some team officials believe limiting his third-base throws could make it easier for him to reach his offensive potential
Nationals manager Matt Williams hinted at a possible plan for more outfield play for Zimmerman recently.
"There may be times where he has to do that," Williams told the Post and other D.C. outlets on Tuesday. Though Williams stopped short of laying out the plan to do just that.
Zimmerman, who was hitting .364 through 10 games when he suffered the thumb injury, has made it clear his priority is to aid the team, which has struggled with absences of star players such as Bryce Harper and Zimmerman. He is a middle-of-the-order mainstay who has an .831 career OPS.
Zimmerman told the D.C. media on Tuesday, "Like I've always said, I'll do whatever they ask if that's what's best for the team ... I'll do whatever."