Zimmerman starts at DH, maybe third on Sunday

Zimmerman starts at DH, maybe third on Sunday

JUPITER, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman re-entered the Nationals' lineup for Saturday afternoon's game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium, but he'll have to wait at least one more day to play in the field.

Zimmerman has been dealing with soreness in his right shoulder, as well as some general body soreness, and he hadn't played since Monday. He started Saturday's game at designated hitter and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a sacrifice fly.

The plan is to have Zimmerman take some ground balls early Sunday morning. If he feels good after that, he could play third base, likely in the Nats' home split-squad game against the Tigers.

"The whole point of taking those three or four days off was to get rid of [the soreness] right now instead of dealing with it all through the season," Zimmerman said. "It's the smart thing to do, and if I feel better [tomorrow], I'll get back in there, and if not, we'll wait until I feel better, and then I'll get back in there."

Zimmerman indicated that the recent soreness was typical for Spring Training, likely the result of doing a lot of work in the field. It's not necessarily an indication that the 29-year-old will continue having problems with his surgically repaired shoulder, although he knows it's something that still could have an effect.

"You never know with surgery," he said. "That's the most frustrating thing is it'll feel good for a couple months and then you'll have a week where it doesn't feel good. Unfortunately that's what you deal with when you've played a lot of years and had surgery. But everything's felt great so far."

Zimmerman, now 7-for-21 (.333) this spring with a double and a home run, said he doesn't need many at-bats to get his swing ready for the season.

The Nats still want him to see some game action at first base this spring, but as Williams put it, "I want him to play third first, no pun intended, then play first second."

Williams did say that even if Zimmerman doesn't get into a game at first base during the spring, he's done enough work there in drills that "he'd be fine," if the club needed to use him there in the regular season. Despite that, the ideal scenario is to get Zimmerman some game reps, at least on the Minor League side.

"I haven't done much over there," Zimmerman said. "But it's more just learning the responsibilities over there. I can field the ball and catch the ball. It's just learning what I'm supposed to do."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.