Ryan Zimmerman makes spring debut

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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made his spring training debut this afternoon against the Cardinals. The veteran underwent off-season surgery to fix the acromioclavicular joint in his right shoulder, which ailed him throughout most of the 2012 season. It was particularly noticeable in the first half, when Zimmerman hit eight homers and posted a .694 OPS in 308 plate appearances. The second half went much better as he hit 17 homers and posted a .945 OPS in 332 PA.

In this afternoon’s outing, Zimmerman singled once in three at-bats but did not play the field, instead slotting in the lineup as the Nationals’ designated hitter. MLB.com’s Joey Nowak expects this to be the case going forward:

He’ll likely be in the lineup only as a designated hitter every other day, alternating with rehabbing catcher Wilson Ramos, for a few more weeks until Zimmerman builds up throwing strength.

Zimmerman kept himself in the lineup last season by getting a cortisone shot at the end of June, helping lead the Nationals to an NL East crown. He hit .381 with two home runs in the post-season against the St. Louis Cardinals. It is expected that the third baseman will be ready by Opening Day as the Nationals resume their quest for NL dominance.

2017 Preview: The National League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League Central

It’s the Cubs’ world and we’re all just living in it. But repeats are rare in baseball nowadays, so maybe it’s better to be on “field” than on the Cubs?

That said, who in the division has a real shot at unseating them? No one I can see, even if the Cardinals and Pirates should be competitive.

The Brewers played .500 ball this spring. Which means absolutely nothing, but I thought I’d mention it. As for the Reds, well . . . Cincinnati has some underrated restaurants and you can go across the river to Kentucky and find a super great bourbon selection at a number of stores. Make a day of it.

Our previews of the NL Central teams:

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates
Milwaukee Brewers
Cincinnati Reds

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins