Good news for the pathetic Nationals’ offense.
Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that Ryan Zimmerman will play “several innings” tomorrow in his first extended spring training game.
Zimmerman has been limited to just eight games this season due to an abdominal injury. He was initially placed on the disabled list on April 12 and had surgery to repair a torn rectus muscle in his abdomen on May 3.
The Nats’ third baseman wrote about his rehab in a blog post with CSNWashington.com earlier today:
If you haven’t seen, I’ve been out of the lineup for a while rehabbing an abdominal tear that occurred a few months ago. I attempted to rehab it without surgery for the first few weeks, and I just couldn’t get it back to where I needed to be full strength. Dr. Meyers in Philadelphia is the best in the business for this procedure, and after some heavy thinking, we decided it was the best idea to go ahead with the surgery.
In just four short weeks, I’m already almost back to full baseball activities and will be joining an affiliate shortly to get a couple of games under my belt before returning to D.C.
Zimmerman was originally expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks following surgery, so he’s currently on track to return sometime in the middle of June.
Nationals’ third basemen have combined to bat .274 entering Tuesday’s action, which sounds just dandy, but they only have three homers and 16 RBI. And that includes Zimmerman’s one home run and four RBI prior to going on the disabled list.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.