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Zimmerman 'close' to return to Nats lineup

MLB.com @JamalCollier

PHILADELPHIA -- While Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer threw their routine bullpen sessions in-between starts, they were joined by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- who stood at the plate and tracked pitches -- on Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park. His rationale behind doing so?

"So when it does come time to come back," Zimmerman said, "I've already seen as many pitches that you can without having to play a lot of games. Or any games. Who knows?"

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PHILADELPHIA -- While Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer threw their routine bullpen sessions in-between starts, they were joined by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- who stood at the plate and tracked pitches -- on Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park. His rationale behind doing so?

"So when it does come time to come back," Zimmerman said, "I've already seen as many pitches that you can without having to play a lot of games. Or any games. Who knows?"

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Zimmerman feels he is close to game action as he recovers from an oblique injury that landed him on the DL on May 12. He took batting practice on the field Friday and has done so in the cages for a while. He has no issues throwing. He still needs to field grounders at first base and run the bases, but those are the final tests before he is ready to return.

Other than saying he was close, Zimmerman did not want to put a timetable for when he could be ready to return. Manager Dave Martinez, said Zimmerman could be ready to play in Minor League rehab games as soon as Monday.

Even though Zimmerman has not played in nearly two months, he seemed to be taking steps to try and avoid a rehab stint. But Martinez would like him to complete one before he returns to the Nats' lineup.

"I would imagine so," Martinez said with a pause. He then laughed and added: "These guys don't like to go out and play [rehab games], so we'll see. He's missed some time, so I'd like for him to go out and at least play three games or so."

Worth noting
Stephen Strasburg actually threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday, after initially the team had hoped he would throw off a mound at some point this weekend. Martinez revealed Strasburg felt strong after playing catch Thursday and decided to throw 25 pitches off the mound with low intensity.

Video: SF@WSH: Strasburg leaves early with shoulder injury

• With right-hander Jeremy Hellickson scheduled to be activated from the disabled list to start Saturday's game agains the Phillies, the Nationals will face some decisions to clear a spot on the roster. They are currently carrying nine relievers, but they don't have Minor League options available, so they will likely have to designate someone for assignment.

Matt Adams (fractured left index finger) took batting practice on the field for the first time Friday.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman