Matt Holliday is on the way.
Joe Mauer is just around the corner.
And there’s another big star who could be arriving back in the major leagues this week.
According to beat writer Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with a double and played a full nine innings at the hot corner Saturday evening in a rehab game at Triple-A Syracuse. He’s now 8-for-18 with four doubles and a triple since beginning his minor league rehab assignment last week.
The Nationals aren’t giving out a public timetable just yet, but Zimmerman is clearly seeing the ball well and feeling strong enough to handle defensive duties at third base, so the guess here is that he will be back in the major league lineup at some point during Washington’s upcoming three-game series in St. Louis. That three-game set starts Tuesday and ends Thursday. You get the point.
Zimmerman has been out since early April with abdominal issues. He was 10-for-28 (.357) before the injury.
UPDATE: Kilgore is now reporting that Zimmerman will be in the Nationals’ lineup Tuesday. He went 0-for-5 on Sunday in his final rehab game at Triple-A Syracuse and will use Monday as a day of rest.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.