Zimmerman Q&A: Why he wants to stay in D.C.

Nationals veteran wants to win a World Series in his career-long MLB home

August 15th, 2019

In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, Nationals first baseman answered questions on a wide range of topics, from his right foot injury to his future in baseball. He could be a free agent after this season if his option is not picked up by Washington.

MLB.com: How’s your right foot?

Ryan Zimmerman: The foot is good. It’s coming along. It has been a frustrating year. It’s one of those things, unfortunately, you can’t do much about. The rest of my body feels great, which is even more frustrating. It makes you a little more upset because of how everything else feels. I must keep going, stay positive and be ready to contribute when I get back.

MLB.com: This is not the first time you’ve had plantar fasciitis. You have had it for years now. Have you figured out why you are getting this foot problem.

Zimmerman: No. Nobody really knows why it happens. Four or five years ago, I had it on my left foot. Obviously, it’s in my right foot [this time]. Nobody knows the reason why it happens to anybody. We’ll try and figure it out. Yeah, I think that’s why it’s so frustrating.

MLB.com: When do you start running the bases?

Zimmerman: I hope sometime soon. I’ve been hitting and taking ground balls for over a week now. The good thing is, once you start running the bases once or twice, that usually means you are good to go. As soon as I do that and come back the next day without being sore, you can expedite the process. Hopefully, that’s what will happen.

MLB.com: How many more years do you have left in the tank to play baseball?

Zimmerman: … I’m willing to come back [to Washington] and do one year, year by year, for a lot less money. I don’t think the money matters to me anymore. I just want to continue to play baseball and keep playing baseball in D.C. I’m lucky that my kids are here. My family is here. I can continue to play. When we are home, I can get up and take my girls to school and do things other people are not as fortunate to do. As long as I still have the love for the game and still have the drive and the will to work as hard, then I still think I can be productive. More importantly, just help us win.

MLB.com: You talked about how you are willing to play on a year-to-year basis. Are the Nationals willing to do it that way?

Zimmerman: We haven’t talked yet. I have a team option left on my contract and it’s going to be more than what the team is willing to pay for next year. I say this without even having a conversation with [Nationals general manager] Mike Rizzo or [managing principal owner] Mark Lerner or [founding principal owner] Ted Lerner or any of those upper-level people. But our relationship throughout the years has always been great. The Lerner family have been nothing but good to me and my family.

Obviously, Mike and I have been together for over a decade. The good thing about Mike is, he is going to tell you the truth. I always respected him for that. Sometimes, it’s good truth. Sometimes, it’s bad truth. I’ve said I like the truth whether it’s good or bad. I would assume at some point this offseason, we’ll talk about [my future] because of contractual issues for next year, whether they pick up [the option] or not. I’m sure the conversation will come up. What I would like. What they would like.

For me, [I’d like] to play on a one-year deal and have someone like here as well so we could each play whatever -- whether it’s 90 games that I play or 100 or 80, whatever. I just want to stay healthy and win. That’s all I really care about.

MLB.com: So you really want to win that World Series.

Zimmerman: Yeah, that’s what I think everyone wants. The people that play this game and don’t want to win a World Series are here for the wrong reasons. Usually, those are the guys you don’t want on the team. That’s the ultimate goal. This year has been quite a ride -- the way the team has kind of shaped up and played over the last 2 1/2 months. The character of the guys we have on this team reminds me a lot of 2012. Hopefully, we can keep it going. All you have to do is get in, whether it’s by the Wild Card or the division. Once you get in the postseason, anything can happen.

MLB.com: The one thing I noticed about Dave Martinez -- he doesn’t get angry. It seems like he is patient. It seems like he tells you guys, “There’s always tomorrow.” Do you get that impression?

Zimmerman: He has had 1 1/2 tough years here -- obviously, by not making the playoffs with all the injuries we had last year. This year, with the start that we got off to -- [12] games under .500 -- and people saying he should get fired, he is literally the same guy every day. He’s positive. He has the players’ backs, he sticks with the guys. He is going to tell you the truth as well. Whether things are going good or bad, he is always the same guy.

When he first came to Spring Training a couple of years ago, he said, we are going to have fun playing. We are going to enjoy each other. When things are good or bad, we will continue to work and be the same people. A lot of managers have said that and then when stuff goes south, managers change and they go into self-preservation mode because they feel their hot feet warming up. And Dave has never done that. I honestly respect him and think the world of him for that. His steadiness and being even keel rubbed off on the team.

MLB.com: What if the Nationals say, “Thanks for everything, Ryan. We don’t need your services.” Are you willing to play for somebody else?

Zimmerman: I talked to some guys who played the majority of their careers with one team and then went to other places. People have told me not to say you won’t do it without trying [it]. At this point in my life, it’s about spending time with my family. For the last 15 years, I’ve been on the road for six or seven months out of the year. I’ve been married for almost seven years. My girls are 3 and 5. At some point, it’s time to start being with your family a little bit more. I’m lucky to live where I play. Playing a couple of years here, it easier to do for me. I’m still home 81 out of 162 games. I can see them quite a bit. It’s an ideal situation. It’s one of the reasons I would play for not as much [money] or consider things that I would not consider anywhere else.

Baseball has given me more than I could ever imagine. I’m so grateful for my career, what I’ve been able to do and the opportunity that I’ve had. It would be a tough decision to leave my family and not be around. It would be a tough thing for me to do. It’s pretty cool to play for one team. I’m pretty loyal to this organization.

MLB.com: What do the Washington Nationals mean to you?

Zimmerman: I’ve been with them since I was 20. I’m going to be 35 in September, so almost half my life I’ve been here, which is crazy. They have given me the opportunity -- going back to [former Nationals GM] Jim Bowden, who basically said, if you do well this first year, we’ll call you up in September. That’s how it all started. I took the opportunity and ran with it. They have been giving me an opportunity to stay here for the long term. They have given me a platform to do the kind of stuff that I’m able to do in the community. They have taken care of my family, whether it was [my] parents, [wife] Heather, [children] Haden and Mackenzie. To me it’s an organization that has always treated me and my family well and given me every opportunity [to succeed].

Even through injuries, they always stood behind me. So, yeah, it’s the only thing I’ve ever known. I’m obviously grateful to them. Hopefully, I can finish this year strong, give them a couple of good years on the back end and more importantly, deliver a World Series. I think I’ve done a good job of letting them know I appreciate everything they have done for me.