Ryan Zimmerman to begin rehab assignment Friday night

Ryan Zimmerman's return to the diamond starts Friday night.
Ryan Zimmerman's return to the diamond starts Friday night. (USATSI)

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Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will begin his minor-league rehab assignment with Class-A Potomac Friday night, the Nationals have announced.

Zimmerman fractured his thumb on April 12 and was expected to miss four to six weeks, so he's returning behind schedule. Remember, Zimmerman is also dealing with a degenerative shoulder issue and has had trouble throwing the ball accurate to first base for the past few years, so in his return, the Nationals plan on playing him at first base, third base and left field.

Obviously the Nationals have Adam LaRoche at first base, Anthony Rendon at third -- though Rendon can also play second -- and Bryce Harper in left field, once he gets healthy. So it'll be interesting to see how the Nationals work things once at full strength.

Zimmerman, 29, is hitting .364/.405/.636 with three doubles, two homers and six RBI in 10 games this season -- so his bat will help the club, no matter where he plays on defense.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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