Upon receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder on June 24, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman acknowledged he might need another one (or more) before season's end.
Nearly three months later, the time finally came.
Zimmerman received a shot prior to today's doubleheader against the Dodgers, a step taken after a recent recurrence of discomfort in the shoulder, and one designed to allow him to finish the season before he's likely to require arthroscopic surgery.
The Nationals said the discomfort Zimmerman has been feeling isn't as severe as it was in June, when he got his last shot prior to the club's series finale in Baltimore.
"I think the difference between this one and the one in Baltimore is that he wants the cortisone shot now, because he's feeling it a little bit," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "In Baltimore, he needed the cortisone shot to perform up to his standards. That's the big difference."
Zimmerman has been dealing with the injury -- diagnosed as a sprained AC joint in his shoulder -- since April, and he's now received four shots over the course of the year. The first two didn't make much difference, but the one he received on June 24 turned his season around. In 55 games prior to that date, he hit .218 with three homers, 22 RBI and a .590 OPS. In 75 games since that shot, he's hit .332 with 19 homers, 62 RBI and a .994 OPS.
Zimmerman's production hasn't dropped much at all in recent weeks -- he's hitting .298 with five homers in September -- but the discomfort was recurring enough to convince him to take this step.
"He's playing great as far as I'm concerned," manager Davey Johnson said. "But the results from the last time he did it were so good, and he felt so much better."
Both Johnson and Rizzo confirmed what has been suspected for some time: Zimmerman will likely need arthroscopic surgery to clean up the shoulder during the offseason. That procedure would be considered minor, and Zimmerman would be fully healed well before the start of spring training.
"I think it's something that's been discussed a couple times from three months ago, and we even discussed it a little bit last night," Johnson said. "It's something that will definitely be seriously considered."