"I told Zim the other day that it feels good to look up at that scoreboard and see .380 vs. .216," said Nationals manager Dusty Baker. "He is a guy that plays at a high level for a long period of time. I'm glad for Zim because he was my pick to click when this year started. That was a guy that we needed very badly."
Zimmerman believes health is the reason for his great start. In fact, Zimmerman is looking to have his first injury-free season since 2013, when he played 147 games.
"The last three years, I've been in and out [of the lineup]," Zimmerman said. "This game is hard. When you play a month or two and then go on the disabled list and have five weeks off, you try to get back -- but you don't have that consistency. Coming to Spring Training healthy and getting my full amount of at-bats down there, [it's great] coming into the season with nothing lingering. It's good to have the consistency."
How bad was it for Zimmerman last season? For starters, he was dealing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and that limited his playing time during Spring Training.
During the regular season, Zimmerman spent two stints on the disabled list because of a rib cage strain and a left wrist contusion, respectively, and posted the lowest batting average of his career (.218).
Injuries were not the only reason for Zimmerman's low batting average. He was chasing pitches out of the strike zone and wasn't going to right field as often as he did in the past.
"I appreciate people saying I was unlucky, but I'll be the first to tell you I had a bad year," Zimmerman said. "Nobody was more disappointed than myself. But I think you learn from it and you move on. That's the best thing about sports. As bad a year that I had last year, it's over with and you move on."
Said Baker, "I didn't see the real Zim. Nobody saw the real Zim. He had that plantar fasciitis in his foot. I had to limit his play in Spring Training. It was bothering him all year. The game is difficult enough. When you are unhealthy, your brain can play tricks on you -- especially when you get older."
As he gets more years under his belt, Zimmerman is paying more attention to his diet and listening to the Nationals' training staff.
"The staff we have here is great. [It offers] up a lot of suggestions for me to do. You just kind of listen and learn, always adapt," Zimmerman said. "You can't do things like you used to do when you were 25 years old. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing major. I won't say I completely revamped [my training program]. You just fine-tune things. You have to learn what works for you."