Ryan Zimmerman to begin playing in extended spring training games

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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.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.