Bryce Harper’s return to the Nationals outfield meant Ryan Zimmerman had to shift from left field back to third base, where he was once a standout defender and is now a huge question mark because of chronic shoulder problems.
And last night manager Matt Williams removed Zimmerman from the game with a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning for defensive reasons, putting into focus the third baseman’s throwing issues and what the Nationals are truly dealing with going forward.
Williams shifted Anthony Rendon from second base to third base, where he played regularly when Zimmerman was in the outfield, and brought Danny Espinosa off the bench to play second base.
Asked afterward about the move, Williams told James Wagner of the Washington Post: “At that point, we want our finest defense in there. We want to make sure that in a tight game like that we do that.”
For his part, Zimmerman called it “the right move” and added:
I’m still getting used to playing third again. Like I’ve said the whole time, Anthony has played the hell out of third base and Danny is one of, if not the best, defensive second basemen in the game. If we’re up late in the game, I have no problem doing that. I think it gives us the best chance to win.
So expect to see Zimmerman removed from games in the late innings regularly, which would have sounded crazy just a couple years ago and still seems a little bit weird considering he’s one of the Nationals’ building blocks and owed another $86 million through 2019.
Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on Thursday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
A new website has launched. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s all about celebrating the past, present and future of Latino baseball from a Latino perspective.
The site, produced in partnership with the Hall of Fame, has four general areas of focus:
- Who’s Now: Focusing on current Latino players;
- Who’s Next: Focusing on top prospects here, in the Caribbean and in Central and South America;
- Our Life: Off-the-Field stuff, including player’s lives, lifestyles and hobbies; and
- Our Legends: Focusing on Latino baseball history, Hall of Famers and overlooked players.
As the site has just launched there aren’t yet a ton of stories up there, but there is one about Roberto Clemente, another about Felix Hernandez and some other stuff.
The site is much-needed. Baseball reporters for American outlets are overwhelmingly white, non-Spanish speakers. Reporters, who, generally, gravitate to the players who are the most like they are. Which is understandable on some level. When you’re writing stories about people you need to be able to communicate with them and relate to them on more than a mere perfunctory level. As such, no matter how good the intentions of baseball media, we tend to see the clubhouse and the culture of baseball from a distinctly American perspective. And we tend to paint Latino players with a broad, broad brush.
La Vida Baseball will, hopefully, remedy all of that and will, hopefully, give us a fresh and insightful depiction Latino players and their culture.
Do you miss David Ross? I miss David Ross. The season hasn’t even started yet and I miss David Ross. There’s something comforting about having a likable graybeard catcher in the game with bonus points for being bald. His loss will be felt.
But while we won’t have David Ross in baseball all this year — at least on the field; he’s a special assistant with the Cubs — we’ll still have David Ross someplace:
Johnny Damon did “Celebrity Apprentice” — Trump fired him, sadly — but we’ve never had a ballplayer on “Dancing With The Stars.” There have been several football players and some Olympians, but no baseball guys. Which makes some amount of sense as, outside of the middle infielders and first basemen, footwork isn’t necessarily the most important tool.
Catchers are particularly plodding for athletes, so good luck, David. Unless you have some moves you haven’t flashed in the past, you’ll probably need it.