Ryan Zimmerman will DH in early spring games

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Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post explains:

In an effort to move [Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman] along slowly, [manager Davey Johnson] plans to use Zimmerman as a designated hitter early in the spring. He does not expect Zimmerman to be able to play defense in a game until two weeks into the Grapefruit League schedule.

Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder in late October. He played catch at a distance of 75 feet on Tuesday at Nationals camp in Flordia but he isn’t ready yet to make high-pressure throws across the diamond in a game setting.

“He knows what he needs to do,” Washington manager Dave Johnson told reporters on Tuesday afternoon in camp. “If you talk to him, he’ll say he’s right on track to get where he wants to be Opening Day.”

Zimmerman, 28, batted .282/.346/.478 with 25 homers and 95 RBI in 145 games last season.