Zimmerman sets career high with 34th homer

Zimmerman sets career high with 34th homer

ATLANTA -- Ryan Zimmerman has faced a lot of adversity during his 13-year Major League career. The veteran has bounced back after battling several injury-riddled seasons to put himself in contention for National League Comeback Player of the Year Award honors.

Zimmerman added to his marvelous year with his career-high 34th home run in the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves on Thursday night at SunTrust Park. He is now batting .302 with 103 RBIs in 138 games this season.

"It is a nice accomplishment after the last two years of not being able to stay on the field and play games," said Zimmerman, who played 156 combined games from 2014-15, and only 115 last season. "Being healthy and being able to play the entire year has been fun again."

The 32-year-old All-Star had quite the series against the Braves. Not only did he set a career high in home runs, but he also reached 100 RBIs for the first time in eight years. It continued his record-breaking season, as earlier this year, he became the franchise leader in home runs and RBIs.

"I am lucky enough to play at this level for a long time," Zimmerman said. "A lot of people go through injuries and things like that. So, it is by no means a story that has never been seen before. I am just happy to be able to be up here and playing whether it's third or first. I am happy to be out there."

Zimmerman's success culminates a long-awaited journey of him being healthy following a nagging right shoulder injury. According to his teammates, his leadership has shined through in helping the Nationals reach the postseason.

"It is great for this clubhouse as he is the leader," Nationals catcher Matt Wieters said. "For him to go out there and perform on the field like he is, everybody is going to follow him because of the presence he brings this year."

The Nationals are going to need Zimmerman as they battle for home-field advantage in the postseason. He is a steadying hand in the lineup and someone that can drive in runs.

With a little more than a week to go in the regular season, the team has been focused on staying healthy for the postseason run.

"Every time he does something, he is going to break his own record," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Zim has had a great year, and we have to just finish strong."

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.