Wandy Rodriguez throws fastballs, changeups off mound

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Wandy Rodriguez is now making steady progress.

According to beat writer Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the left-hander threw fastballs and changeups in a successful 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday at Colorado’s Coors Field. “No problems,” Rodriguez told reporters after the short workout.

Rodriguez will throw another bullpen session — his third — on Wednesday in St. Louis and could then be cleared to face live hitters. “It won’t be finalized until we know how he feels tomorrow from throwing today, that’s what we kind of laid out as the plan moving forward,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since June 5 because of left elbow and forearm tightness. He tried starting a minor league rehab assignment on June 24 but felt renewed discomfort in his throwing arm almost immediately and was shut down. The hope is that he can avoid setbacks this time around.

Pittsburgh entered play Sunday with a four-game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central.

Rodriguez had a 3.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 46/12 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings before hitting the shelf.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉