Rib strain likely to end Zimmerman's year

Rib strain likely to end Zimmerman's year

WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was not in the lineup for Monday's game against the Phillies, missing his fifth consecutive start with a right rib strain. He is likely done for the season.

However, Zimmerman and manager Jim Riggleman are holding out hope that Zimmerman could play during the final week of the season, but both admitted there isn't a rush to play. It takes about two weeks to recover from that type of injury.

Riggleman said he would not play Zimmerman until he is 100 percent. Zimmerman said he is not taking any medication to ease the pain.

"I wouldn't say I'm all the way done," Zimmerman said. "Obviously, I'm working every day to rehab it and see if I can get back out there. We're just being cautious. We don't want to come back a little too soon and hurt it even worse. I'm getting better each day. I'm trying as hard as I can to get back out there. This is the first day it kind of felt a little better. That's good."

Zimmerman was scheduled to play Thursday against the Astros, but he was scratched at the last minute because of the rib strain. Zimmerman has had the injury for a while, but it grew worse after taking batting practice before the game. Zimmerman doesn't know how he hurt his rib. He insisted that the injury had nothing to do with the fact that he didn't hit a home run during the month of September.

"I wouldn't say the injury affected me to the point where I couldn't hit a home run. I felt it a little bit, not more than anyone else who is feeling things like that," he said. "I was still getting my hits and being productive at the plate. I just didn't hit any home runs."

If Zimmerman is done for the season, he'll finish with a career-high .307 batting average, 25 home runs and 85 RBIs.

"He is just a good ballplayer," Riggleman said. "He runs the bases, he is smart and a Gold Glove defender. He is not only a threat to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but he comes through in big situations. He is the complete package."

With Zimmerman out, Alberto Gonzalez is likely to see most of the action at third. Entering Monday's game, Gonzalez was hitting .268 with four RBIs.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.