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Improving Zimmerman tests hammy, unsure of return

VIERA, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman said he's getting closer to being 100 percent healthy, but there's still no timetable on when the injured veteran third baseman will return to Washington's lineup.

Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since July 23 after suffering a Grade 3 right hamstring strain, continued his rehab Thursday at the Nationals' Spring Training facility in Viera. He was the designated hitter in a simulated instructional league game, going 1-for-7. Zimmerman's only hit was a ground-ball single to left field in his last at-bat of the day. He jogged to second on a passed ball, then tagged and sprinted to third on a flyout to deep center.

"I'd say it's about 80-85 percent right now," Zimmerman said before heading to the training room for his post-workout treatment. "Everything feels good."

Zimmerman, who went 4-for-8 in an instructional league game Wednesday, spent some time in the batting cage and also took some grounders at third and first before Thursday's game. He said that his primary focus now is regaining his timing and rhythm at the plate.

"Hit a couple balls to short, had to kind of go, which is a good thing for him," manager Matt Williams said in Miami, where the Nationals opened a four-game series with the Marlins. "We all want him to get a million hits, but those are probably more important just to test his leg. He played good. He'll play seven innings tomorrow in left field and we'll reevaluate from there."

Zimmerman, who turns 30 on Sept. 28, has battled injuries most of this season. He has a hitting line of .282/.345/.456, with five homers, 19 doubles and 36 RBIs in 53 games for the National League East champion Nationals.

The 2009 Gold Glove Award winner would not offer a conjecture on the chances of him rejoining his teammates this weekend in Miami.

"We'll see how things go the next few days and go from there," Zimmerman said.

Said Williams: "Depends on how he feels. He's sore. His overall body is sore right now. It's day four of Spring Training. You play four games, everybody gets sore."

Steve Dorsey is a contributor to
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