Zimmerman makes spring hot corner debut

Zimmerman makes spring hot corner debut

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals slugger Ryan Zimmerman played his first game of the spring at third base during a 4-2 loss to the Astros on Saturday evening.

Zimmerman acknowledged that he was nervous in the first inning, but he didn't have any problems on the field. His only action came in the top of the second inning, when Carlos Corporan hit a slow roller to third base. Zimmerman grabbed it and sidearmed a perfect throw to first baseman Adam LaRoche for the first out of the inning.

"Everything was good. I think the throws in between innings got better," Zimmerman said. "The first one was not as good as I have been throwing. As the innings went on, it got better. It was good to get in front of people and get back into a game [as a defender]."

Zimmerman wasn't able to play third base until now because he was strengthening his right shoulder, which was surgically repaired this past offseason. However, Zimmerman was able to serve as a designated hitter and was 11-for-22 (.500) in that role. During practice earlier this week, Zimmerman was fielding and throwing like he did when he won a Gold Glove Award in 2009.

"I usually like to take a pretty good amount of grounds balls every day -- keep it going good," Zimmerman said. "I'm not to the point I can take all the ground balls. It's a matter of getting some endurance and getting the volume up. As far as throwing and how it feels, it feels good.

"From here on out, we will see how each day goes and go from there. We have plenty of time. It's a matter of building strength and confidence and do what I do."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.