Though he's eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday and has been aiming to play in that night's nationally televised series finale against the Phillies, Ryan Zimmerman may not be ready to return from his shoulder injury until Tuesday.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Zimmerman will begin hitting off a tee Friday, and he'll likely need a few more days to ramp up his stroke in the batting cage and against live pitching before he comes off the 15-day DL.
"He's throwing and doing all that," Johnson said. "He feels great. But he's still got to wait, make sure we get by this injury. So I think Tuesday is his coming-out party, hopefully."
Zimmerman hasn't played since April 20 due to inflammation of the AC joint in his right shoulder. He's remained with the big-league club throughout his DL stint and for the last two days has participated in defensive drills.
The injury, though, only affected his swing, so the Nationals won't know for sure whether he's completely healed until he has a chance to pick up a bat again.
Zimmerman had expressed optimism he'd be ready to return as soon as he becomes eligible Sunday, which would allow him to play in the finale of this weekend's series against the Phillies (the first time the Nationals have appeared on Sunday Night Baseball since Zimmerman christened the new ballpark with a walk-off home run in 2008).
"I could use his bat, but I don't want him for three or four days and then have a problem with it," Johnson said. "If that's missing a couple more games, so be it. I'll wait on him."
Even though he won't have appeared in any actual games in more than two weeks, Zimmerman probably won't need to go on a brief rehab assignment with one of the Nationals' minor-league affiliates.
"Not for me, he doesn't," Johnson said. "I'll take him cold turkey."