Pitching for the first time since Tommy John surgery about 11 months ago, Jordan Zimmermann tossed two scoreless innings in a rehab start at Single-A.
His fastball was reportedly clocked in the mid-90s and Zimmermann was very pleased with the outing:
It feels great. I mean, I’ve been waiting for 10 months now. No pain, felt strong. Everything went well. There’s a process for everything. You’ve got to start in the minors and get your innings and get your work in and get back to where I was when I first got called up.
Zimmermann has the odd distinction of being both the Nationals’ other Zimmerman(n) and the Nationals’ other young ace, but he showed a ton of upside before the injury and could be the team’s long-term No. 2 starter behind Stephen Strasburg.
A second-round pick in 2007, he breezed through the minors with a 15-5 record and 2.78 ERA before posting a 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91.1 innings spread over 16 starts as a 23-year-old rookie. He can’t compete with Strasburg in terms of superstar potential, but Zimmermann ranked among Baseball America‘s top 50 prospects before the surgery and would be the prized young pitcher in an awful lot of organizations.
He’s ahead of the usual post-Tommy John surgery timetable, so hopefully the 24-year-old right-hander can avoid a setback and return to Washington at some point in the second half.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.