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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman nearing minor league rehab assignment

Over the last few weeks, the Nationals have finally started to get healthy. Slowly but surely, they’ve added stars like Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon back to their everyday lineup, and the wins have followed.

If everything goes according to plan, they could be close to adding yet another potential impact bat. This time, it’s Ryan Zimmerman.

The first baseman, who has been on the Injured List since April 28 while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, could begin his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, according to his manager.

Zimmerman is getting closer to full health but is still experiencing discomfort while running. During batting practice Thursday, Zimmerman resumed baseball activities, and the plan is for him to run the bases before his minor-league assignment.

"If you're going to be out there playing, you've got to be able at least score on a normal base hit if you're on second, go first to third,” Zimmerman said Thursday. “You might not have to be 100 percent on all that, but you have to do normal, everyday activities, or you're not really helping the team.”

The priority in the minors will be playing nine full innings.

"I think the biggest thing with the rehab games is just getting on your feet for nine innings so the first time you're out there for nine innings isn't here, and you can play some games and make sure it doesn't act up,” the longtime National told reporters. “Because once you're activated and once you're between those white lines, it's game on. It's more I think for Davey [Martinez]. You don't want to put him in a bad spot. If he is managing without knowing if I have restrictions or without knowing what's going to happen, that puts him in a bad spot. That's not what you want to do."

Davey Martinez has rarely had his full complement of players in 2019. Zimmerman himself has already missed 47 games.

Of course, once he returns, the Nationals will have more decisions to make. Not only do the Nationals need to find a roster spot for Zimmerman (Gerardo Parra is a candidate to be the odd man out, despite some flashes in his time in Washington), but they also need to figure out the playing time.

Matt Adams has hit with a lot of power this season, and without the DH in the National League, is limited to first base, same as Zimmerman. Howie Kendrick has been the Nationals’ second-best hitter in 2019 and is one of the best surprises in baseball, but is also limited defensively. Kendrick has more versatility, but with Brian Dozier’s recent surge (and superior defense), the Nats will likely want to keep him there. And, of course, Rendon and Turner are entrenched on the left side of the infield.

It’s something Martinez will have to figure out, he’s already begun speaking with players about what the arrangement will look like.

For right now, it’s a problem for another day, but if Zimmerman’s rehab goes well that won’t be the case much longer.

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Gerardo Parra is gone, but will never be forgotten

Gerardo Parra is gone, but will never be forgotten

There was a down time for Gerardo Parra. His non-stop bubbliness lost some perk once he entered a month-long slump. Parra did not ride his scooter into the clubhouse with the same joy. His work in the dugout during games dialed back to enthusiastic, living below his usual level of a rocket being launched into a volcano. He wasn't himself. So, Davey Martinez called him into the manager’s office.

“I sat with him. I said, what's going on?’” Martinez said during the postseason. “He said, ‘I don't know, I'm not doing good.’ And I go, ‘And?’ And he looked at me and said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Your job is to bring the energy every day. I don't care if you're 2 for 100. Bring the energy. Play that music, get loud, and have fun. Have fun.'

“He said, you're right, and he went back and started playing music, having fun. Lo and behold, he went on a tear again, and he comes back in my office, and he said, you know, I kind of forgot what it was like to just be myself. And I said, exactly. So I don't ever want to see you do that again, you know? You're another heartbeat of this team. It's not just about you, it's about everybody else. Like I said, 2 for 100, you've got to be yourself.”

Parra being himself turned into one of the grand storylines of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series season. His daily arrival was stirring, like someone tossed a bag of sunshine into the clubhouse. His scooter-propelled entrances included horn-blowing and extra laps and what-the-hell-is-this-guy-doing smiles. Often, he wore blacked-out sunglasses when circling the clubhouse, darting right back to the training area, then pulling a u-turn to zip through the other side of the clubhouse and past the dining room before an abrupt halt at his locker.

Parra’s next stop -- scooter inclusion to be determined -- is Japan. He signed a one-year contract with the Yomiuri Giants late Tuesday, the team announced. His departure ends arguably the most memorable, non-quantifiable, pervasive bit player show in organization history. It’s 2020 on-field impact is nil.

“When Gerardo Parra joined the team, something happened,” managing principal owner Mark Lerner said during the postseason. “Whatever it was, it was magic.”

Parra caused Freddie Freeman’s bewilderment. His presence led to a stadium-full of adults -- by age -- clapping along to a child’s song which included lyrics and a beat never to be extracted from one’s skull once heard. His father sat at Parra’s locker on the red cushion of a folding chair in his “Papa Shark” T-shirt. Even founding principal owner Ted Lerner, a 94-year-old man of business and sternness, paused to mention the “Baby Shark” situation at the team’s parade. 

“I want to say a special word to the veterans on this team: from now on, you can call me, ‘Grandpa Shark.’”

Max Scherzer cackled.

Parra’s May 11 grand slam in Los Angeles was one of the few palatable points in the month and indicative of his ability in big spots. He finished the season with a 1.117 OPS with runners in scoring position. 

Late in the year, Scherzer said the team had an “it factor.” Asked how he knew, he couldn’t explain. “You just know it when you see it.” This stance applied to Parra because moments became his.

The pop culture surge of his song choice -- a result of his daughter’s relentless listening and an attempt at slump-breaking -- put Parra in front of cameras all season. A television hit on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” was part of his media rounds. Afterward, he beamed. 

Parra, born in Venezuela, went back to the clubhouse to describe his success. “I nailed it,” he said. He went on to tout the quality of his English during the segment. It was so good, he thought a name change was necessary.

“My name is no more Gerardo, it's Gerard,” Parra told Martinez.

Martinez’s reaction?

“You can't be serious. You've got to laugh at him, but he was dead serious. And he started going around the clubhouse saying, ‘You call me Gerard from now on.’ Whatever.”

Gerardo, Gerard, the song, the scooter, the smiles and rose-colored glasses are off to Japan. Staying is a legacy of fun, which won't go away.

 

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Nationals fans recall best memories of Gerardo Parra in farewell to 'Baby Shark'

Nationals fans recall best memories of Gerardo Parra in farewell to 'Baby Shark'

The memories from the Nationals' first-ever World Series-winning season will live on forever, especially those memories including Gerardo Parra and "Baby Shark."

Early Wednesday, Parra signed with Japanese baseball team the Yomiuri Giants. Although only a Washington National for a short time, Parra's impact on the 2019 Nats will be felt forever.

We took to Twitter to ask Nats fans about their favorite Parra memories, and the replies will make you nostalgic.

An overwhelming number said Parra's go-ahead grand slam against the Dodgers.

Just days after his arrival in Washington, Parra's first hit as a National was a go-ahead grand slam on May 11.

In June, Parra decided to change his walkup song after hitting a bit of a slump. Inspired by his two-year-old daughter's favorite song, he chose "Baby Shark."

"Baby Shark's" debut game? Against the Philadelphia Phillies, a game in which he threw Bryce Harper out at third base.

“That's the only chance I had to get Harper,” Parra said to NBC Sports Washington following that June 19th matinee. “I know he's an aggressive player and I tried to get everything perfect. Bare-handed, throw the ball as fast as I can. I think that changed the game.”

Other fond memories involved Stephen Strasburg. Parra is credited for bringing out his fun side this season.

One of the iconic Parra-Stras tangos came after the Nats' clinched their first-ever World Series berth.

Getting Strasburg to agree to a hug was another fond Parra memory.

The best hugs were the World Series hugs.

No matter your favorite Parra memory, one thing is for certain. Gerardo Parra and his impact in Washington, D.C., will never be forgotten.

Farewell, Parra Shark.

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