Ryan Zimmerman doesn't know if he's going to play baseball next year. He might not know for another few weeks.
But one thing he does know is the moment he shared with Nationals fans on the final day of the regular season is something he'll never forget. The Nationals' first-ever draft pick told the Sports Junkies on Tuesday how he felt on Sunday when the fans showered him with cheers upon exiting the game early.
"I think it was just kind of a culmination of a lot of things and it goes back to us athletes being so trained to take it day by day," Zimmerman said. "You don't really ever sit back and think about things. So I guess in that moment, it was maybe the first time I've ever -- not thought about it, obviously I thought about it, it was kind of thrown at me -- I just lost it man.
"It was cool to see Josh [Bell] come out there. I think it's more your teammates and that kind of stuff is what really gets you more than anything. It was an awesome moment that I'll never forget. Who knows what's going to happen, but that was pretty cool for me and hopefully for everyone else."
As Zimmerman admitted, he has been trained to only focus on the next day or the next game, and never to worry about things like his legacy or what the fans could do for him if he exited a game early the way he did on Sunday. There's time during the offseason for that kind of thinking.
However, a conversation with his wife Heather convinced him that just this once, the 37-year-old infielder should be allowed to think big picture and take in some love from the fans who've watched him for 16 years.
"I downplay everything," Zimmerman said. "I think that's kind of what athletes tend to do, we don't really think things are big deals. When you're consumed by 162 games, we don't really think of stuff. I was actually kind of talking with Heather [Zimmerman] the night before about possibly seeing if Davey wanted to do something like that. It's a weird situation because I'm not sure for next year. But basically what she said was, 'You don't understand what the fans feel.' She said, 'I think you'll regret it if you don't do something. Not for you, but for them just in case you don't come back.' And she was right."
Now whether Zimmerman comes back or not, he'll always have that moment with Nationals fans.
In regards to the decision everyone is waiting on, Zimmerman still doesn't know what he wants to do, but he has an idea on when he might figure it out.
"I'm lucky I have a unique relationship with this organization where I have the ability to kind of [wait]. It's not like I'm the building block they're building around anymore, either. So it's a little bit easier for me to wait and make a decision. But I think when I'll know is come the end of this month going into November, when it's time for me to start ramping up and getting going. I'll take a couple of weeks off where I really don't do much. And then after a couple of weeks, I'll start to ease into stuff and then come November 1st, it's four or five days a week until spring training."
Zimmerman recalled how former teammate Howie Kendrick started his offseason training program after the 2020 campaign but stopped just a little over a week into it and decided to call it a career. For Zimmerman, that realization may come at some point in November or later in the winter, but he's certainly going to give it some thought over the next few months.
"I think that's the biggest question I need to answer," Zimmerman said. "I still think I can be productive. I still think for my role and it being the first year of me doing it, I think I did pretty well this year. I love being around the guys. I love being there to help the young guys. So there's a lot of questions, but I'm fortunate to be in a position where I get to actually assess my situation and make a decision. A lot of guys, they don't get that opportunity."