WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman made his Grapefruit League debut Friday, the last Nationals starting position player to do so as a result of Spring Training being extended by the World Baseball Classic. After a strong offseason, Zimmerman is healthy and hoping to rebound from a tough 2016
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Zimmerman made his Grapefruit League debut Friday, the last Nationals starting position player to do so as a result of Spring Training being extended by the World Baseball Classic. After a strong offseason, Zimmerman is healthy and hoping to rebound from a tough 2016 campaign and prove that he has something left to offer.
His first at-bat looked like so many from last season, with Zimmerman squaring the ball up and hammering a line drive, but right at Cardinals left fielder Randal Grichuk for an out. Still, it was an encouraging sign for Zimmerman, who finished 0-for-2 with a strikeout while playing first base until the sixth inning in the Nationals' 2-1 split-squad loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
"It's always good to get out there the first time," Zimmerman said. "A couple good at-bats. But it's March 3. It's nice to get in and get out and get your work done and go home."
The Nationals believe Zimmerman is set to rebound after a season in which he routinely hit the ball hard but without much success as he posted a career-low .642 OPS. He has been working with hitting coach Rick Schu and taken some pointers on improving his launch angle from teammate Daniel Murphy -- small tweaks that could help Zimmerman when the season begins.
"You can't take too much stock early in the spring season," he said. "The last week or two weeks you start to get into that kind of stuff. These games are more to get some at-bats, see some pitches. For me, make sure I'm on time and working on that. That's about it right now."
• Wilmer Difo played five innings in center field during the Nats' 8-5 victory over the Marlins in split-squad action in Jupiter. Washington plans to get Difo some outfield work during Spring Training to add to his versatility and possibly turn him into a utility player.
"This is adding to his potential value," manager Dusty Baker said.
• Shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, a non-roster invite, was scratched in Jupiter with a sore right shoulder.
• Baker said catcher Matt Wieters is a few days away from making his spring debut. He did not officially sign until Feb. 24.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.