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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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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

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