Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had successful surgery on the AC joint of his right shoulder last Thursday. His recovery is expected to take six weeks. All signs point to Zimmerman being ready for spring training in 2013.
Zimmerman had played the entire 2012 season with the injury. He was put on injured reserve in April. After his return in May Zimmerman was given four cortisone shots that allowed him to play the rest of the season.
Before being put on the disabled list, Zimmerman struggled at the plate. After coming back, he continued to struggle until receiving the shots. Though he was never healthy in 2012, Zimmerman finished second on the team with 25 home runs and 95 RBI.
The injury bothered Zimmerman in the field as well. He had to alter his throwing motion in order to get the ball to first and second base. Zimmerman decided to throw with a three quarters or sidearm motion in order to relieve stress on the shoulder which caused him to commit some throwing errors. This was the tradeoff for having Zimmerman’s glove and bat in the lineup.
If everything goes according to plan the Nationals hope to get a fully healthy third baseman in 2013. If they do the Nationals expect Zimmerman’s numbers to be even better than they were in 2012. After six years of having very little protection in the batting lineup he got plenty of help in 2012. Batting in the thirds spot Zimmerman benefited from Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper hitting in front of him while Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse protected him from behind. If this group can stay intact next season, Zimmerman should have one of his best seasons.
In the field, Zimmerman should be able to throw with no discomfort. The sidearm motion will stay for some plays, but should be replaced on routine throws to first. This will make Zimmerman an even better fielder as his reflexes and range make him one of the better third basemen in baseball.
The Nationals signed Zimmerman to a six year contract extension last off season. He has been the face of the franchise since arriving in 2005. Washington knew that Zimmerman may need surgery on his shoulder, but was willing to sign him long term. He went a long ways toward justifying their faith after the cortisone shots last season.
A healthy Zimmerman will give the Nationals an all-star caliber third baseman for the next seven years.
When the shoulder heels we may finally get to see the best of what Zimmerman has to offer.