If the Washington Nationals were any better last season, they may not have needed Stephen Strasburg in the playoffs. And the scary thing is, they could have been better. The club's third baseman, Ryan Zimmerman, battled shoulder issues all season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery this offseason to make sure that didn't happen during the 2013 season, and it seems Zimmerman is on pace to be 100 percent for Opening Day.
Mel Antonen of MASN says the Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told the station Zimmerman is progressing nicely and on pace to be ready for Opening Day. Zimmerman is now throwing from 120 feet says Rizzo. Zimmerman's next step will be to get some game action in. Once he does that and can test the shoulder, he should officially be ready for Opening Day.
The Nationals finished the 2012 season with a 98-64 record last year - tops in all of baseball. However, they lost in the National League Division Series. The city and the team was happy to turn things around and make the playoffs, but the end result was still disappointing.
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It's hard to say Zimmerman being completely healthy would have made the difference. The fact is, the Nats had the Division Series all but won and blew it. However, Zimmerman was clearly bothered by the shoulder. He still managed a .282/.346/.478 line, but his numbers were slightly off his career line. Zimmerman smashed 25 home runs and finished in the top-25 in National League MVP voting.
Zimmerman, who is signed through the 2019 season, has been the face of the Washington Nationals - through good times and bad. It's like a marriage at this point. Now, it's time to continue the good and push the Nationals further into the postseason. A healthy Zimmerman can help do that.