MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zimmerman taking transition in stride, eager to learn first base

Former hot corner standout praises Rendon, who's taken over third for Nationals

Zimmerman taking transition in stride, eager to learn first base

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."

MLB Tonight: Diamond Demo

"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?

2015 Spring Training: Nationals

"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.

Zimmerman said he has fully recovered and plans to play close to 150 games.

"For the rest of the offseason, I could train and do what I wanted to and everything feels good," Zimmerman said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.