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Zim could need shot, DL stint

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Zim could need shot, DL stint

For weeks as he struggled to catch up to fastballs and seen his batting average tumble to depths not before seen during his career, Ryan Zimmerman insisted his right shoulder wasn't a significant issue.

But after Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Orioles, the Nationals third baseman acknowledged for the first time his shoulder was bothering him at the plate and admitted he may need to make another stint on the disabled list to address the problem.

"I've been hitting for a while here in the big leagues, and I don't miss fastballs the way I've been missing fastballs," he said. "So it's frustrating, but I've just got to continue to do my treatment and stuff, and hopefully it will improve and we'll get to that. But if things keep going the way they've been going, we're going to have to do something."

The first step, according to manager Davey Johnson, could be a cortisone shot to alleviate pain in the shoulder. That would sideline Zimmerman for at least a couple of days, but the Nationals could decide he'd be better served taking a full 15 days to recover, perhaps using the upcoming All-Star break to offer him some extra time.

Asked if a DL stint is a possibility, Johnson replied: "There's no question about it. I think possibly even getting another injection in his shoulder. I'm that concerned."

Zimmerman missed 13 games in late-April and early-May with what was termed a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. At the time, the 27-year-old third baseman said the injury affected only his ability to throw, not swing.

But with only two hits over his last 31 at-bats and a .590 OPS that ranks 157th out of 162 qualifying major-leaguer hitters, Zimmerman now says his shoulder issue is preventing him from generating the bat speed that had allowed him to amass a career .288 batting average and .834 OPS prior to this season.

"I've been working decent counts and getting decent pitches to hit, and I just
foul them back or am a tick late," he said. "And for me, if I'm in a hitter's count and I see a fastball, I usually am not continuously late, pitch after pitch. That's what's so frustrating."

Zimmerman hasn't explicitly told Johnson he's in pain, but the manager didn't have a hard time detecting a problem.

"You can tell by the way he's not getting at balls he normally gets at," Johnson said. "And he's not going to complain about it. He's going to try to go through it."

Whenever he's dealt with nagging injuries in his career, Zimmerman has insisted he would always speak up and take a seat if he felt he was hurting his team more than he was helping it.

How does he know if and when it's time to admit that?

"It's tough," Zimmerman said. "Nobody wants to stop, I guess. That's not the nature of this game. Everyone plays until basically they break, which isn't always the smartest thing, but that's how we've been raised in this game. But I haven't really been helping the team lately, offensively. I feel like I've done some other things to help the team win. It's just frustrating. Obviously we're playing good, we have a good team. And I want really bad to be a part of that."

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others