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Ryan Zimmerman has yet to play in the field this spring.
"Can't it just be April 1st already!" the All-Star outfielder posted on his Twitter account, this after he recorded his 14th hit in 32 spring training at-bats.
Hate to break the news to you, Bryce, but there's still a ways to go before you guys can take the field at Nationals Park for Opening Day against the Marlins. On the bright side, you are inching closer to April, the longest spring training on record having now moved past the two-third mark.
The Nationals break camp 16 days from now, so the finish line is starting to come into view. They're off today, then play 17 more Grapefruit League games before finally boarding their charter flight north. (FYI: I'm heading back down to Florida later today for the rest of the spring.)
There haven't been a whole lot of major developments in the four weeks since pitchers and catchers first reported, but there wasn't that much that needed to develop. And with the extra-long camp this year to account for the World Baseball Classic, Davey Johnson purposely wanted to bring everyone along slowly, especially his veterans and those coming back from injury.
Now that the Nationals are entering the final stages of the spring, we're starting to see more regulars get more playing time and more of those rehabbing veterans ramp things up.
So let's take a look at some of the more significant things to watch over the remainder of camp...
RYAN ZIMMERMAN'S RETURN TO THIRD BASE
Zimmerman has yet to appear in the field this spring as he works his right shoulder back into shape following surgery in late-October, but it won't be much longer before we see him at third base. Zim has worked on refining his throwing motion this spring, ditching the awkward-looking mechanics he used last year while fighting the injury and going back to a more natural motion.
He has slowly ramped things up over the last four weeks and has been cleared to throw across the diamond. He's just working now on building up some strength and stamina before he takes the field in a game, something that should occur within the next week.
There certainly doesn't appear to be any reason to worry about Zimmerman's readiness at the plate. He's served as designated hitter five times in the last nine days and boasts seven hits in 15 at-bats (including a double and a homer).
WILSON RAMOS' RETURN TO REGULAR PLAYING TIME
Ramos has already appeared behind the plate a couple of times in the last week, his first catching duties since tearing his right ACL last May. And so far, the young catcher has looked solid.
The key now is to build up the strength and stamina to catch a full game, then ultimately catch back-to-back games. The latter probably won't happen before the end of camp, but the Nationals definitely need to see Ramos squat behind the plate for nine full innings before they're 100 percent sure he's good to make the Opening Day roster as their No. 2 catcher behind Kurt Suzuki.
WHO'S THE FINAL RELIEVER?
The only true roster competition in this camp hasn't offered up much excitement yet. Most everyone in the running for the last spot in the bullpen has either been slowed by injury (Henry Rodriguez, Christian Garcia) or poor performance (Bill Bray).
All along, though, the hunch has been that the job was Rodriguez's to lose. The flame-throwing right-hander does need to prove he's healthy following last summer's elbow surgery, and he needs to prove he can pitch with some level of consistency. But given the fact he's out of minor-league options, it would take something significant at this point to keep Rodriguez from breaking camp with the rest of the club.
If H-Rod either suffers an injury setback or really struggles on the mound, the door could remain slightly open for a camp surprise, someone like Cole Kimball or Fernando Abad. But that still remains a long shot.
WILL YOUNG REPORT TO SYRACUSE?
Signed to a minor-league deal on Feb. 21, veteran Chris Young figured to plug the Nationals' gaping hole for a No. 6 starter in case one of the members of the Opening Day rotation goes down. And to date, the 6-foot-11 right-hander appears healthy and getting his mechanics back into top shape.
Young, though, has a big decision to make in a couple of weeks. He can opt-out of his contract on March 24 if he's not added to the big-league roster, and at this point it's anyone's guess what he'll choose to do.
If he pitches well, Young figures to have an opportunity to sign with somebody else who can offer a better chance to pitch in the majors. But when he signed with the Nationals, he went out of his way to explain his excitement to join a winning franchise like this, so perhaps he's willing to go to Class AAA Syracuse to start the season and wait to see if his services are needed in D.C. at some point.
If Young does depart, the Nationals will again find themselves without a well-established No. 6 starter, left to call upon either Zach Duke or Ross Ohlendorf should the worst happen.
NATS IN THE WBC
As the World Baseball Classic moves into its final stages, several Nationals will be taking center stage in the international tournament.
Gio Gonzalez, of course, starts tonight for Team USA in its second-round opener against Puerto Rico in Miami. Ross Detwiler figures to appear again for the Americans in this round, whether out of the bullpen as he did on Saturday or perhaps starting depending on the matchup.
And Roger Bernadina and his honkball-playing mates from the Netherlands are getting ready to depart for San Francisco, having already clinched a berth in the semifinals (along with Japan). Bernadina did not play in yesterday's dramatic win over Cuba after getting hit with a pitch in the wrist the previous day, but the injury doesn't appear to be serious and the outfielder should be back in the lineup for this weekend's final four at AT&T Park.
Eventually, the WBC will wrap up and these three players will return to the Nationals, at which point they'll need to quickly re-integrate themselves into camp and make sure they're ready for Opening Day with the rest of their teammates.