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Zimmerman won't return from oblique strain

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Zimmerman won't return from oblique strain

ATLANTA — It comes as no surprise at this point, but Ryan Zimmerman won’t have enough time to return from a strained oblique muscle to play before the end of the season.

Sidelined for three weeks with the ailment, Zimmerman has been trying to get himself feeling well enough to return to the field before season’s end. But he continues to feel a pull in the oblique muscle when he tries to swing, so Nationals officials have told him not to take a chance trying to make it back for this week’s final six games.

“At this point, to push him is not smart,” manager Matt Williams said. “He’ll continue to strengthen, start his offseason program and make sure he’s on that path and getting going again for next spring. But [a return this week] doesn’t look likely.”

Thus concludes another frustrating year for Zimmerman, who also missed seven weeks earlier in the summer while recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He wound up playing in only 95 games, hitting a career-worst .249 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and a .773 OPS that was 51 points worse than his career average.

RELATED: Don Cherry goes after Bryce Harper in Twitter rant

That said, Zimmerman was among the most productive hitters in the league during his most-recent healthy stretch, posting a .311 batting average, 11 homers, 39 RBI and a 1.024 OPS over his final 39 games.

All that leaves the Nationals particularly frustrated by the events of the last six months.

“You look at what it could be,” Williams said. “I know he does. And he gets frustrated by it. … I know he wants to play a full season. And boy, if he can do that, it can be pretty impressive. That’s his outlook, and he’s looking forward to starting that process.”

Zimmerman has played in an average of only 110 games over the last five seasons, a prolonged run that has featured a variety of physical ailments both major and minor. He just turned 31 on Monday, and the challenge only gets greater for any player of his age to keep himself on the field through a long season.

“The only thing that I can say personally from experience: As you get older as a player, if you have an injury and take time off, then you risk something else when you come back,” said Williams, who averaged 99 games played from age 32 through 37. “Because the body just doesn’t react like it does when you’re young. So that being said, I personally would love for him to have a healthy season. It’s been frustrating for him. For him to get out there for 145 games, 150 games, and be able to play that, that would be great. And I know he would be very happy about that. You talk about production, if he can do that, then he’s a vital part of success.”

Zimmerman isn’t the only member of the Nationals’ lineup dealing with a nagging injury. Center fielder Michael Taylor was out again Tuesday after his knee swelled up. Taylor still hasn’t fully recovered from a collision with the fence at Nationals Park on August 27, with fluid building up in the knee. Williams said offseason surgery shouldn’t be necessary, but the club will be careful with him through this final week.

“It’s been much better,” the manager said. “They’ve gotten the swelling down, which is a really good sign. On occasion, if he bangs it, it’s just going to puff up. Once he gets through the season and gets to the offseason and not have those issues, the body will take care of the extra fluid that’s there. I don’t think there’s any issue with it, other than give him some rest.”

Yunel Escobar, meanwhile, has been dealing with an upper back strain and has been out of the lineup the last two days. Williams expects to have the veteran infielder back for most of the final week, with Escobar trying to finish his season strong and perhaps raise his batting average to .320.

MORE NATIONALS: Rizzo defends Williams, himself as Nats season gets worse

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm