Injury-riddled Nationals just keep winning
Slugger Daniel Murphy still hasn’t played, outfielder Adam Eaton is out and now catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman are gone. And still, the Nationals keep winning.
The Nationals have seen five of their projected everyday starters spend time on the disabled list this year, but they’re still making up ground in the National League East thanks mostly to strong starting pitching from Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.69), Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 3.28), Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.22), Tanner Roark (2-3, 3.33) and Jeremy Hellickson, who was 1-0, 2.28 before his start Sunday.
Washington beat Arizona 2-1 on Saturday as Strasburg got the victory, their third of the four-game series, and gave the Nationals 12 wins in their last 14 games. Earlier, the Nationals took two of three in San Diego and they have now won four series in a row.
Going into the Sunday night ESPN game at Arizona, the Nationals (23-18) were 1.5 games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves.
Zimmerman, placed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain before Saturday’s game, will be replaced on the 25-man active roster by 34-year-old Mark Reynolds, summoned from Triple-A Syracuse.
Ironically, Zimmerman and Reynolds were teammates at the University of Virginia in 2003 and 2004.
Reynolds hit 30 homers and struck out 175 times last season with the Colorado Rockies. He also played for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011-12. He signed with the Nationals earlier this spring and played 10 games for Syracuse.
Zimmerman hasn’t felt right since diving for a grounder at Nationals Park on May 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“It was trending in the right direction, and then some of those dives kind of made it worse,” Zimmerman told reporters in Arizona. “It just got to the point where I couldn’t sustain it for five months. I want to give it some time, get it better. I don’t think it should be too long. But that dive made it a little bit worse. It was the smart thing to do.”
Zimmerman, after a bounce-back season last year, is hitting just .217 with five homers this season.
“He was starting to swing the bat pretty good before this last injury,” manager Dave Martinez told reporters. “He’s going to be fine. I say this all the time, but we’re in May. We get him back in the next 10 days, and he goes off ... you know Zim, he can carry us for two months. I’m looking forward to him getting healthy and getting back on the field.”
Another Virginia product with the Nationals is closer Sean Doolittle, who was a pitcher and first baseman when he played for the Cavaliers.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Zimmerman told reporters of the Virginia ties. “And especially the track we’ve all taken to come here ... But it is pretty cool to have all of us here. It’s fun for us.”
The Nationals are off Monday and return to Nationals Park to face the New York Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Gonzalez is slated to start Tuesday against the Yankees, with Roark going Wednesday.
Arizona had not lost a series this year until the Nationals secured the series with the win Saturday.