Zimmerman said the players didn't know enough about what happened with Riggleman, who left the team because he didn't have any communication with general manager Mike Rizzo about picking up his club option for the 2012 season. Washington had won 11 out of its last 12 games when Riggleman decided to call it quits.
"Anytime something like that happens, obviously, it's surprising. But we don't really have all the information," Zimmerman said. "It happened. There is nothing you could do about it now besides go out and continue to play. I don't think anyone saw it coming or thought about it at all. ... It's tough, but at the same time, we have to continue playing and finish the season strong.
Interim manager John McLaren had no intention of holding a team meeting before Friday's game about the managerial situation.
"We are going to take batting practice. There is no meeting. We don't need a meeting," McLaren said. "There is nothing to tell these guys. The situation is what it is. A pep talk will not do it. I can't explain it to them because I don't know how to explain it. We are going to play baseball. We have been playing great baseball and I feel we will continue to play good baseball.
"We have a good group of guys. I said it many times. It's a different culture this year. We don't accept losing. They care about each other. They talk to each other all the time. We all have a job to do."
In fact, Zimmerman said the continuity among the players will remain intact despite the change in managers.
"The continuity is between the players," Zimmerman said. "Obviously, having the coaches and the manager is good. But when we go out and field, it's us playing. Jim wasn't pitching or hitting. They helped us get ready, but at the end of the day, we are the guys who go out and play and we are the guys, when we do well, we are rewarded for doing good. When we do bad, we look forward to doing better. They can't do any of that for us. When it comes down to it, it's us doing it."
One of Riggleman's favorite players was Desmond. Riggleman privately referred to Desmond as "the teacher's pet." They often denied they had a father-and-son relationship. Riggleman always lauded Desmond for his hard work on the field. Desmond said he will always remember Riggleman as his first big league manager.
"He gave me every opportunity in the world to succeed. He rooted for me and he rooted the rest of us on," Desmond said. "He stuck with me last year. He saw some potential in me that maybe some other people didn't. Any time you have somebody in your corner, you have to respect it, you always have to respect him. I played as hard as I could for him. I think he managed and did everything he could for the betterment of the team.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.