Nationals manager Matt Williams touched on a wide range of topics during his pregame press conference on Wednesday, including the passing of bench coach Randy Knorr's wife, who should be selected to the All-Star team and the latest update on Ryan Zimmerman.
First, the Knorr stuff. Knorr's wife, Kimberly, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 45 and the longtime coach has left the team to be with family. Defensive assistant Mark Wiedemaier will fill in while he is gone, however long that is. Williams said Knorr will be given as much time as he needs to cope with what is a significant and tragic loss.
"Yesterday was a sad day around here," Williams said. "It was a rough day for everybody. The coaching staff knew early. We addressed the players yesterday afternoon. We are a family and anytime you lose a member of that family, it’s a long day. All of us know Kimberly very well. She was a vital part of our efforts in spring training especially with the Wheelchairs 4 Kids and had fantastic support from the team. So all of the guys know her personally. It’s tragic news. We’ll lift Randy as much as we can from afar for now and when he gets back we’ll support him as much as we can as well. It’s never easy to lose one of your family."
On a lighter note, Williams was asked which Nationals players he thinks should be All-Stars. He didn't mention Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer, as he really doesn't have to. Both are locks if they keep playing like they have so far this season.
But Williams did name a few names he thinks should be in Cincinnati for the July 14 Midsummer Classic.
"Once the voting part is over, decisions can be made," he said. "But I think Yunel [Escobar] has had a fantastic first half. Certainly Drew [Storen], of course. That's a given. But Yunel has played really well in a position he hasn't played before, which comes with some pressure when you first start doing it. Nonetheless, he's been our two or three hitter the majority of the season. He's played well. He's well over .300, he's doing things that he wants to do. He's played very well for us. If he's in a different spot in the lineup, the numbers are different of course. But I think he's made a great case."
Zimmerman is still without a timetable as he recovers from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The 30-year-old veteran took grounders at Nats Park on Wednesday and has been walking on a treadmill, Williams said.
"He's got his orthotics, a custom made pair of orthotics to deal with the plantar fasciitis issue. It feels good. Yesterday he was 15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk walk, just to make sure it's feeling okay. He'll continue to do that today and we'll progress him from there to jogging and running, swinging. He's taken some dry swings, but nothing serious yet," he said.
Williams said Zimmerman can wear the orthotics in his cleats even when he returns to the lineup. Zimmerman is batting .209 with five homers and 34 RBI in 56 games. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 11.