Ryan Zimmerman has pain in shoulder, may need a break

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Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com’s excellent “Nats Insider” page provides the money quote:

“I’ve been hitting for a while here [in the big leagues], and I don’t miss fastballs the way I’ve been missing fastballs,” Ryan Zimmerman said Saturday after watching his batting line fall to .218/.285/.305 . “So it’s frustrating, but I’ve just got to continue to do my treatment and stuff, and hopefully it will improve and we’ll get to that. But if things keep going the way they’ve been going, we’re going to have to do something.”

The 27-year-old third baseman is likely to get a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder early this week. If that doesn’t take care of the discomfort, he may be placed on the 15-day disabled list. The approaching All-Star break (July 9-12) could mean fewer missed games.

Washington moved to 41-28 with Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Orioles. Zimmerman would be surely be missed, but the first-place Nats are better served getting him as healthy as possible for the stretch run.

Zimmerman is in the Nationals’ starting lineup on Sunday against Baltimore, playing third and batting third.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.