Ryan Zimmerman is close to playing his first game at third base.
Zimmerman was originally scheduled to take the field Monday against the Tigers, but manager Davey Johnson said the 28-year-old indicated he could be ready to go Saturday night against the Astros. Nationals rehab coordinator Steve Gober concurred, provided Zimmerman is able to get through today's workout in Viera with no issues.
"I guess I can't keep all these guys conservative," Johnson said. "They're being more aggressive than me."
Zimmerman has appeared in seven Grapefruit League games to date, serving as designated hitter each time. All the while, he's been building up arm strength following surgery in late-October to repair the sprained AC joint that plagued him throughout 2012.
Zimmerman has been participating fully in pregame drills and indicated earlier this week he was ahead of schedule.
"Everything's good," he said. "Now it's just a matter of throwing until it feels good. I've just got to have the volume and reps to get it back into shape. And after that, we'll be good to go."
If he plays Saturday, Zimmerman will probably only appear in the field for three or four innings, getting a couple of at-bats before he's replaced. His return to third base would also give Johnson the chance to let his pitchers hit for the first time this spring.
A create of habit, Zimmerman prefers to get about 50 at-bats in spring training. He's currently 11-for-22, with three doubles, a homer and four RBI.
"He looks great," Johnson said. "I'm not worried about him at all. And there's still plenty of time. He's right on schedule. His timing is great. That is what I was most concerned about. I think he's got 22 at-bats, so he only needs 28 more to get to 50. So he's right on pace."