Nationals starter Dan Haren surrendered eight hits and three earned runs over six innings in a 4-2 loss Sunday in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader against the Marlins. Game 2 is scheduled to get underway at 7:05 p.m. ET, but it won’t matter much.
The Braves — by virtue of the Nats’ defeat — have clinched the National League East crown for the first time since 2005. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman was on the scene at Wrigley Field, where the Braves were finishing up a three-game series with the Cubs:
The Braves will host the Brewers for three games and the Phillies for four to finish out their regular-season schedule. They’ll be trying to retain home-field advantage (through the NLCS) from the Cardinals, who also clinched a playoff spot with the Nats’ loss.
Washington is all but mathematically eliminated from the National League Wild Card hunt, so it will likely be two National League Central teams duking it out in the NL Wild Card Game on October 3.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.