VIERA, Fla. -- Maybe Ryan Zimmerman said it best Monday. He is starting a new chapter in his baseball career. His days as a third baseman are over. Zimmerman will now be the Nationals' everyday first baseman, replacing the departed Adam LaRoche.
Zimmerman arrived in camp Monday and didn't waste any time working on his skills at first base. Under the tutelage of manager Matt Williams and the coaching staff, Zimmerman plans to learn the nuances of playing the position. Zimmerman also plans to be just as good as he was at third.
"A lot of it is just being over there and getting some experience and learning the cutoffs, just making the muscle memory, getting used to the responsibilities over there," Zimmerman said. "Other than that, it's a pretty self-explanatory position -- just have to get some experience and some games in this spring."
"It's a process. He is new to the position. He has played it sometimes [last year], but not a lot," Williams said. "He did a lot of work last year at the position, but the game reps are not there for him. We are going over the basics of footwork, positioning, his thoughts on where he would like to play, what he can or [cannot] do, what he feels comfortable with. That was a little bit of the introduction this morning."
It seems like yesterday when Zimmerman was often compared to Brooks Robinson at third. Who can forget the diving plays Zimmerman would make around the bag that would remind people of the Orioles legend?
But Zimmerman's days at the hot corner are over because of a right shoulder injury he suffered in 2012. His throws to first were sometimes tough to watch. Even he admits that Anthony Rendon is the right man to replace him at third.
How weird is it for Zimmerman to no longer be at third base?
"I think it's weirder for you guys [the media] than it is for me," Zimmerman said. "All good things come to an end. Not too many people get to play as long as I have or been as lucky as I have so far. I still have a lot of baseball left.
" … Anthony is an unbelievable young player. I look forward to watching him grow, mature over there. I think he has a chance to be really, really good."
Last July, Zimmerman suffered a Grade 3 hamstring strain and missed much of the second half. He wasn't fully recovered once the Nationals reached the postseason and was relegated to the bench against the Giants in the National League Division Series.