Zimmerman showed he was ready, swinging at the first pitch from Braves right-hander Tyrell Jenkins and hitting a solo home run into the left-field stands in the second inning. The ball left the bat at 111 mph and traveled a projected 394 feet from home plate per Statcast™.
"I was looking for a good fastball to hit," Zimmerman said. "I was getting a little more aggressive, kind of picking the zone until you get two strikes. He threw a good pitch, and I put a good swing on it."
Zimmerman finished 3-for-4 with that homer, two runs and two RBIs. The first baseman, who missed 16 games with a left wrist contusion, was hit by a pitch on the wrist on July 31 in San Francisco. He went 6-for-12 (.500) in three rehab games with Syracuse.
"We are getting whole," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "I told Zim to just start his season all over right now. It's like getting a new, fresh player back. His next six weeks -- and hopefully into October -- are big months because whenever you get these guys off the DL, especially this time of the year, everybody is dragging. This is like May for Zim and September for the rest of us."
It looked like Zimmerman took Baker's advice to heart. What was his reaction to Zimmerman's performance after the game?
"I didn't think he was going to hit it that quick," Baker said. "If I knew the first pitch he saw was that easy, I would have said it to him a long time ago. I'm just glad he was here to help us. I'm glad he feels good."
Lobaton missed time because of left elbow tendonitis. He, too, had a rehab assignment with Syracuse, going 5-for-13 (.385) with an RBI. Lobaton, who will continue to be Wilson Ramos' backup, has played in 27 games for the Nationals this season, going 14-for-72 (.194) with three home runs and six RBIs. He is 1-for-5 off the bench.
Severino was productive for Washington during his most recent stint in the big leagues, batting .467 in 15 at-bats. Severino clubbed the first home run of his Major League career on Wednesday at Colorado, becoming just the fourth player in Nationals history (2005-present) to collect his first big league homer as a pinch-hitter. He joined Jeff Kobernus, Kory Casto and Justin Maxwell on that list.
Baker was impressed with what he saw from Severino on the field and hopes he will be back when the roster expands on Sept. 1.
"I've liked Seve since Spring Training," Baker said. "He works hard. He brings a lot of energy. He is a take-charge guy, and he is getting better as a hitter. He did what he was supposed to do while [Lobaton] was on the DL."
As for Cole, he was recalled for his first Major League stint of the season on Friday, but he did not appear in a game. He was in the bullpen as a long reliever. The right-hander is 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 22 starts for Syracuse this year.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.