NL East Notes: Zimmerman, Phils, Tejada, Heaney

The Nationals raised some eyebrows recently by having injured third baseman Ryan Zimmerman work out in left field (as noted yesterday by the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore), though many on the coaching staff were quick to tell Kilgore that Zimmerman was merely getting some conditioning work. In a second piece from Kilgore last night, Zimmerman essentially said the same, noting that he cannot take grounders during batting practice at this point and the outfield worked helped him “from going crazy.” Manager Matt Williams, however, wouldn’t rule out using Zimmerman in the outfield, though he sounded more comfortable with the longtime third baseman as an emergency option there: I think he’s a wonderful athlete and if we have a pinch late in a game where we have nobody left and he’s got to play left field, or right field or center field, he could do it.” 

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The next 20 games could determine the Phillies‘ course of action this summer, writes’s Jim Salisbury. The Phils have a stretch of 20 games in 20 days beginning tonight, and 11 of those contests come against divisional opponents. If the team fares well in this stretch, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may well push the decision off for a few weeks, but Salisbury implies that a particularly poor showing could push the Phillies into sell mode.
  • Salisbury’s colleague, Corey Seidman, points out that fans can’t pin the team’s 19-22 record on the aging core. Ryan Howard is on pace for 28 homers, Chase Utley has played like an MVP candidate thus far, Jimmy Rollins has a career-high .359 OBP, Carlos Ruiz‘s OBP sits at .396 and Marlon Byrd has hit very well. Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Jonathan Papelbon have all turned in solid ERA marks also, he adds. However, the team has received next to no production from Ben Revere and Domonic Brown, the bullpen has struggled and the bench has combined to hit .181 with four homers thus far.
  • Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald found the Marlins‘ recent signing of Miguel Tejada a bit puzzling, so he spoke with VP of player development Marty Scott about the deal. Scott said the signing was made for depth purposes and that Tejada impressed both offensively and defensively in private workouts. I don’t want something to happen at the big-league level where we don’t have someone we know who can come up and do the job,” said Scott before calling Tejada a “safety valve.”
  • From that same piece, Spencer reports that the Marlins are currently listing Thursday’s starter at Triple-A as “TBA,” and that spot is very likely to be filled by top prospect Andrew Heaney, who has dominated Double-A Jacksonville. If all goes well, says Spencer, Heaney could be with the Fish in early June.

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