Over the weekend an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder, but the Nationals third baseman has had shoulder problems for two years now and during a radio interview last night manager Matt Williams revealed for the first that he’s “got an arthritic shoulder.”
Answering questions from Nationals fans on 106.7-FM, Williams said:
But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say “Would I like Ryan to play third?” Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder. It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him. So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes. …
We have to curtail that just a touch to make sure that he feels good. What does that involve? Maybe it doesn’t involve as many throws. Maybe it’s cutting down on the amount of grounders he takes in pregame. I know that he looks to go down, especially when it’s cold, in the cage and throw. Maybe it’s an adjustment to that, too.
Williams made it clear that he wants Zimmerman to remain at third base for “a long time” but obviously it’s not a good sign that the Nationals are needing to do things like cut down on his pregame throwing in order to keep his shoulder issues from being a bigger factor.
Current first baseman Adam LaRoche is a free agent after this season and Zimmerman sliding across the diamond full time in 2015 seems like a very real possibility at this point. He’s in the first season of a six-year, $100 million extension.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.