MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zimmerman eager to work under Baker

Veteran infielder praises new Nationals manager's extensive experience

Zimmerman eager to work under Baker

WASHINGTON -- After volunteering Monday afternoon at Food & Friends, a D.C. organization that delivers nutritious meals to needy people with critical illnesses, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman sounded like a guy who is excited to play for manager Dusty Baker.

Zimmerman said he spoke to Baker briefly, while Baker was pheasant hunting, but Zimmerman heard a lot of good things about Baker through former teammate Adam Dunn and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. In fact, Zimmerman talked extensively to Bruce about the new Nationals manager.

"Not one person has said a bad thing about [Baker]. I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are pretty excited to have him," Zimmerman said. "He lets you play. He was a player, obviously. He's managed MVP guys, he has been to the World Series. He pretty much has done everything he could possibly do as manager. I think he manages personalities more, not that he doesn't manage the game. His strongest suit is managing the clubhouse, managing personalities, making it seem like a family. I think that will be good."

Nats introduce Baker as manager

Zimmerman is also pleased with the way the new coaching staff is assembled. He will be reunited with new first-base coach Davey Lopes. In 2006, with Lopes in the same position with the Nationals, Zimmerman stole a career-high 11 bases.

"He knows what he is doing. He is also not afraid to tell you what he thinks, which I think is good," Zimmerman said of Lopes.

Zimmerman is also pleased that Rick Schu is back as hitting coach. After the season ended in early October, Schu's contract was not renewed. However, Baker rehired him more than a week ago.

"Rick is positive, energetic, to go along with his knowledge of baseball," Zimmerman said.

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