MIAMI -- A day after Ryan Zimmerman's fourth throwing error in five days dramatically changed the course of the Nationals' 8-2 loss to the Marlins, manager Davey Johnson reiterated that he doesn't think there's anything wrong with Zimmerman.
"I don't think it's a mental problem. I think he's fine, and he's only going to get better," Johnson said. "This spring, I thought with the severity of that injury and the [shoulder] surgery in the offseason, and now throwing from a different angle, his arm is a lot stronger. It's just going to take a little while for him to get comfortable in his slot over there.
"And it's always magnified if somebody makes a bad pitch after you make an error and they hit a home run. We're not picking each other up. Good teams do that. It puts more focus on a guy making an error behind him, especially when he's coming back from some surgery. I don't have any concern. He's feeling great and making a lot of plays. We just haven't picked him up behind an error, which we usually do."
Zimmerman more or less admitted after Tuesday night's game that the problems were only in his head and that he's frustrated he can't make the plays he knows he's capable of. And the former Gold Glove Award winner is still making many excellent plays, particularly those that require a quick reaction and afford him little time to think about his mechanics and his throwing.
"He's taking more time, but he's actually, in one fluid motion, fielding the ball, coming up and throwing. That's the normal sequence that you go through," Johnson said. "But his release point, it's a whole new release point. That just takes time for him to get to the real comfort zone where you don't even think about it. That's where we're headed, and that's he's headed, and I really like where he's at."
Johnson said Tuesday night that it could take until June for Zimmerman to feel truly comfortable with his new arm slot, but he described the third baseman's new throwing mechanics as "100 percent improved" since last year.
"I like where he's at. I like his natural throwing motion. He had plenty of time," Johnson said. "He felt so good, he took more time and the ball got away. But that just told me he really felt good. Last year, he got rid of it real quick. This year, he's feeling more comfortable.
"When you're coming back from offseason surgery and you've restricted yourself because you couldn't really throw overhand, that's a major adjustment. ... It's a feel. This game is all about feel."