Ryan Zimmerman to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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While Jayson Werth is out of tonight’s lineup after being hit by a pitch on the elbow last night, the Nationals are very close to getting the face of their franchise back.

Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Zimmerman will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with low-Class A Hagerstown. Zimmerman, who underwent abdominal surgery exactly one month ago, went 0-for-4 and played four innings in the field today in his second game in extended spring training.

While Zimmerman will likely be in the same lineup as top prospect Bryce Harper on Sunday, he could move to High-A Potomac by Monday or Triple-A Syracuse by Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could rejoin the offense-starved Nationals sometime during their current 11-game road trip, which concludes June 12 in San Diego.

Zimmerman was batting .357 (10-for-28) with one home run and four RBI before going on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain on April 10.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.