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Zimmerman tabbed for some spring DH duty

VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Davey Johnson said he's planning to use Ryan Zimmerman as a designated hitter during parts of Spring Training, as the Nationals' third baseman recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

Zimmerman had arthroscopic surgery on his ailing right shoulder, which troubled him for most of 2012, in late October with a timetable of six weeks set for recovery.

His batting practice this spring has been limited to the cages and he's only slowly started a throwing regimen. Johnson said Zimmerman should be ready for Spring Training games about two weeks into the schedule, and he intends to utilize the designated hitter as a way to get Zimmerman his at-bats.

"He looked natural. Free and easy," Johnson said of Zimmerman's throwing on Tuesday.

"If he's getting a few at-bats toward his 50 total ... you don't want to sit too long. When you start playing games, anybody's gonna feel the urgency of wanting to get in there," Johnson said. "I want to go real slow with all the problems he's had -- the shoulder, offseason surgery -- and he had no problem with it."