When the Nationals were scuffling at the plate for the majority of April, the club remained confident that most of its veterans would soon begin performing up to the level of their track records.
And if this past weekend is any indication, the hope is that might be the case with Ryan Zimmerman. During the three-game sweep of the Braves, he went 5-for-12 with a double, a home run and five RBI -- a sign that perhaps the longtime National infielder is beginning to rediscover his power stroke.
"His timing is getting there," Matt Williams said. "You miss most of last year and it’s not like it’s riding a bike. You just don’t pick it up again. So the timing’s starting to come."
It's been two years since the Nats have seen a fully healthy, productive Zimmerman. He spent much of 2014 on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury, and was never really himself when he returned late in the season. When he's right, however, Williams knows he can pencil in a corner infielder who's usually good for 20-plus home runs and close to 100 RBI year in and year out.
With last year's injury troubles behind him, Zimmerman hasn't panicked because his start to the season hasn't been up to his usual standards. Just under a month and a half into the season, he's hitting just .232. But on the flip side, he's notched 22 RBI, second on the team only to the guy he hits behind, the sizzling Bryce Harper.
"You know it's kind of funny because my average obviously isn't what I want it to be, but I feel good at the plate," Zimmerman said after Sunday's 5-4 victory. "Usually when you're having success and the numbers look like what they look like, you're struggling, you feel lost. But honestly all season I felt great."
"He's going to get going, everybody knows that," added Harper. "Zim's such a good hitter so being able to have a guy like that behind me is huge. Being able to have a guy that's gonna see a lot of pitches, gonna drive me in most of the time. Hopefully I can get 100 runs cause he's gonna get 100 RBIs."
For much of his tenure in D.C., Zimmerman has been one of the few constants in the Nats batting order. But since the team's transformation into a playoff contender and the emergence of young guns like Harper, it's been easy to forget (for some, anyway) the consistent production the mild-mannered Virginia native has given the organization over the years.
As for 2015, Zimmerman is confident that he's still got it, and that by the end of the season, he'll post the type of numbers that many Nats are accustomed to seeing from him.
"I've done the same thing for 10 years now," Zimmerman said. "And by the end of the year, it's always worked. So I've just got to trust that and stick with it and grind it out."