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Zim may not return until Tuesday

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Zim may not return until Tuesday

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."

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

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Nationals baffled by Dickey's knuckleball in Braves' 3-2 win

ATLANTA  -- R.A. Dickey frustrated Washington with his knuckleball for eight innings, Ozzie Albies had three hits and the Atlanta Braves beat the Nationals 3-2 on Thursday night.

After Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff homer in the second inning, the 42-year-old Dickey gave up only one hit -- a two-out single by Trea Turner in the third -- over the next five innings. Turner was picked off first base.

Dickey (10-10) gave up two runs, four hits and no walks. He made a strong case that the Braves should pick up his $8 million club option for 2018.

Zimmerman lined his homer into the left-field seats, tying the game at 1. He set a career high with his 34th homer, his fourth off Dickey this season.

Arodys Vizcaino struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 15 chances. It was a strong return to form after Vizcaino walked all three batters he faced in a blown save Wednesday night.

The Braves scored two runs in the fourth off Tanner Roark (13-10). Albies singled, moved to third on catcher Matt Wieters' wild pickoff attempt and scored the go-ahead run on Freddie Freeman's fly ball to deep left field. Nick Markakis doubled past Zimmerman at first base and scored on Johan Camargo's single up the middle.

The Nationals trimmed the Braves' lead to one in the eighth. Anthony Rendon doubled to left field and scored on Wieters' two-out single.

Ender Inciarte continued his push for 200 hits when he led off the first with a triple to right field. It was his 191st hit, the third-highest total in the majors. Inciarte scored on Albies' single.

The game was delayed several minutes in the middle of the eighth. There was confusion as Nationals manager Dusty Baker attempted to make several defensive changes and had to go over the changes with home plate umpire Nic Lentz, who also took questions from Braves manager Brian Snitker.

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Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman sets career high in homers vs. Braves

Ryan Zimmerman's resurgent season continues to get more and more impressive. 

Zimmerman hit his 34th home run of the season on Thursday night, setting a new career high. 

His previous career high was set in 2009, when he hit 33 while slashing .292/.364/.525 with a .888 OPS. 

He didn't get cheated on it, either: 

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