Zim gets it done, has record success vs. Fish

Veteran first baseman uncertain what future holds for him, Nationals

September 15th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- isn’t making any decisions about the potential for returning for a 17th Major League season until this winter. But for now, the 36-year-old continues to produce like he still has a lot more baseball left to be played.

“I’ll sit down with my family and kind of see where we’re at,” Zimmerman said after the Nationals’ 8-2 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Nationals Park. “This year has gone pretty well. It’s going to depend on how I feel after the season, depend on how I feel Dec. 1 -- honestly, if I want to start working out and getting ready to prepare to be productive for another Major League season.

“There’s a lot of things that go into it. Obviously, I think the team’s in a lot different situation than it was at the beginning of last year. We’ll see how that goes. There’s a [collective bargaining agreement] that needs to be signed, we’ll see how that goes. … Those are some things that I’ll have to think about.”

Until that time comes, Zimmerman continues to go out and play at a high level each time his name is in the lineup. While backing up Josh Bell at first base and being utilized in pinch-hit situations, Zimmerman is batting .243 with 56 hits, 14 home runs, 45 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 99 games played this season.

“My body definitely feels better than it normally does, which kind of is the plan and sort of the reason why I’m at this point in my career,” Zimmerman, who turns 37 on Sept. 28, said. “That was the ultimate goal of all of this, was to keep me healthy and to keep me productive. Honestly, I think it’s worked out pretty well. I feel better and fresher than I have in the past.”

After taking just one at-bat in a pinch-hit situation on Monday, Zimmerman came to the plate on Tuesday ready to go against the Marlins. And with one swing of the bat, he added his name to two more rankings.

In the second inning, he pummeled a home run to right-center field off starter Jesús Luzardo. His 14th dinger of the season, the hit was notable for two reasons.

Zimmerman moved into a first-place tie with Ryan Howard for the most all-time career homers against the Marlins. It was his 41st home run vs. the National League East rival in 213 games. He broke a second-place tie with Hall of Famer Chipper Jones (40), and also ranks ahead of Freddie Freeman (38) and Bryce Harper (33) on the top five list. Zimmerman has hit 10 more home runs off the Marlins than the next opponent -- 31 versus the Braves.

“I had no idea, to be honest with you. But Ryan Howard hit a lot of home runs, so I guess that’s a good guy to be tied with,” Zimmerman said with a smile.

The solo dinger also stands out for going the distance -- literally. With a Statcast-projection of 442 feet, it set the mark for the Nationals’ longest opposite-field home run since at least 2015. So whose homer did Zimmerman's blast pass? His own. On July 30, 2017, he sent an oppo shot 434 feet out of Nats Park against the Rockies.

“Let’s just say, it was a little reminiscent of Soto going up on the train tracks in the World Series,” said bench coach Tim Bogar, who was filling in for manager Dave Martinez after the skipper had a follow-up appointment for his foot surgery.

While the baseball world waits to see what the Nationals’ first-ever Draft pick and longest-tenured player decides about his future, Zimmerman keeps showing what propelled him to the top of franchise leaderboards.

“You just never know when his last one’s going to be, obviously, but I’d love to see him come back another year,” Bogar said. “You never know with this new CBA what’s going to happen with the DH, too. So that might just open up another year, two, three, four -- who knows?

“I don’t want to say it’s the last home run I’ve seen him hit. I don’t want to say it’s the last at-bat I’ve seen him hit. I’ve been around him for a shorter period of time of his career, but a lot of those days have been very special. He’s a good man.”