Zimmerman bats four times in first rehab game

Zimmerman bats four times in first rehab game

WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-3 in four plate appearances for the Class A Potomac Nationals on Friday night in the first game of his Minor League rehab assignment as he makes his comeback from a broken thumb.

In his first plate appearance in the first inning, Zimmerman -- who batted third as the designated hitter -- drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to right field. He grounded out twice and flied out in his next three at-bats against the Salem Red Sox.

"We'll see how he comes out of it tomorrow, and how he feels in the morning," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "We'll make a determination tomorrow what he's going to do."

The game went into extra innings tied at 4, and Zimmerman was due up in the bottom of the 10th, but Williams said the team told the slugger he couldn't have a fifth turn in the batter's box. Khayyan Norfork pinch-hit for Zimmerman and won the game with sacrifice fly to center field.

"Of course it happens that way," Williams said. "It always does."

Zimmerman took batting on practice Wednesday afternoon for the first time since fracturing his thumb on April 12. Williams said Zimmerman took batting practice again on Thursday and looked good.

"It's a question of his timing and feeling good at the plate and seeing some live pitching," Williams said. "I think he's close."

Zimmerman is expected to remain Potomac's designated hitter for a couple of games before moving into the field in order to avoid any relapses. After that, he could play left field, first base or third base. Zimmerman will play all three positions once he returns to Major League action.

During Thursday's off-day, Zimmerman worked out at third base without any issues. Zimmerman worked out at first base on Wednesday, which was also his first time taking ground balls since the injury. Two weeks before that, Zimmerman spent time practicing in left field.

"It's important for him to play all over the place," Williams said.

The Nationals have an off-day on Monday, and Williams said he hopes to get eyes on Zimmerman that day in Potomac for the team's series finale against Salem.

"A player's never going to tell you the truth," Williams said. "So it's good to see him and see what his timing looks like at the plate."

Williams didn't rule out a Tuesday return for Zimmerman, though he said that would be "awfully early." Zimmerman generally doesn't need many at-bats to return to form, as he displayed during Spring Training.

"Being off that long is difficult," Williams said. "But we'll see."

Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.