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Nats hope Zimmerman returns late this month

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LOS ANGELES -- There haven't been any new developments on Ryan Zimmerman's recovery from a Grade 3 right hamstring strain, other than he is getting better and jogging. He still hasn't participated in baseball activities.

However, Nationals manager Matt Williams talked about Zimmerman's role when he returns to action, which will hopefully be by late September.

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Williams indicated that Zimmerman could play three positions -- third base, left field and first base. It depends on where the need is, according to the skipper. The Nationals have an everyday player at each position -- Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche -- during Zimmerman's absence.

"That being said, I want to make sure that we are not throwing him in there every day to make sure that he is good to go," Williams said about Zimmerman. "So I would imagine he would play all three of those [positions] on any given day. There is no set plan."

Before he returns to the big leagues, Zimmerman needs to be in game shape and he needs at-bats. He most likely will play in the instructional league in Florida.

"That's the only spot we can do it. He can get to instructional ball and get multiple at-bats, which is important," Williams said. "That's the only place we could get him for live-game action during his progression. When he is ready to go, he'll be here with us -- ready."

Worth noting

• LaRoche [lower back tightness] is getting better. In fact, Williams went so far as to say that he is available to play late in Wednesday's game against the Dodgers.

LaRoche has been dealing with the back injury during the entire road trip. He hopes to be better by the time the team returns home to meet the Phillies on Friday.

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.

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