Q. You've played with Werth for a long time now. When he got off to a slow start this year, he's 37, did you ever think, are we going to see the same guy again? Were you ever worried about that, and what do you think of what he's done in this series?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I mean, post-season-wise, I think this is kind of par for the course for him. He's, I don't know if you want to say one of the best post-season players ever, but he's been in a ton of post-season games, and talk about a guy with big hits, lots of home runs and just big at-bats. The post-season I don't think ever really worries you.
The way he started this year, it's a long season; we play such a long season, and some guys get off to slow starts and some guys, some years, rebounds. Some years it's a tough year and the next year they have a great year. So it's hard to tell. You don't ever really know.
He is getting older, but he takes incredible care of his body and he's really in tune with all that kind of stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays for a few more years after this.
Q. You started off slow yourself throughout the season, when you looked at evaluating your season, what did you look at, groundball rate, line drives? You also mentioned the hard hits, like the Statcast™ thing. Who told you that?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: A bunch of you guys told me about that (laughter). I have no idea what all that stuff means. Boz is the king of telling me that. Keeps my spirits up.
Yeah, that's baseball. I mean, I'm a pretty streaky hitter; I always have been. I've never really gotten to great starts, and come June, July, August, sometime around then, I would usually kick it into gear. This year for some reason, it never really happened.
I feel like I'm in a good spot now. I've had a good series so far. Hopefully can finish it off with a good game tonight. But you know, baseball is a funny sport, man. You know, it tests you mentally, it tests you physically and you just have to keep going. There's nothing else you can do. Just keep going out there and doing your work and hope that something clicks and you get hot for a little while.
Q. When you do get to the post-season, does it help from a mental perspective that the numbers reset; that you can sort of like start over in a way? And also, when it wasn't going well for you during this year, did you ever worry that Dusty was not going to keep playing you, and did you have any conversations with Dusty about that?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I mean, I think Dusty did a good job of mixing Clint in all year long. Clint's a good player and he deserves to get some at-bats.
You know, moving forward, I think you realize you can't play 155, 160 games every year. It's just not -- the game has changed so much. It's so much different now; that taking those days off and letting the other guys play, not only to help you, but to keep them sharp, is kind of the way the sport is going, I think.
So me and Dusty, our dialogue all year was really good, I think. He continually called me in there and would say, "Hey, man, I have faith in you, keep going, keep working. You're hitting the ball well. You're just having bad luck, or whatever you want to call it."
I think that's one of his strengths as a manager is to keep his guys up, trust his guys. He's going to have your back no matter what. But at the same time, I'm frustrated because I want to perform for him.
I think this year, it's one of the hardest years I've ever had. But as a team, it was one of the greatest years I've ever had. So I think that made it a little bit easier for me. But no, we're here now and a bunch of us are swinging the bat well, whether we were in the regular season or not. Hopefully we can do something about that tonight.
Q. After your game the other day, did you want the other series to end so that you guys could finally have a night game here? Did the guys say anything about that?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I'd like to say I care whether or not. When you get to this point, you're so invested in just the game that day, you almost completely forget what's going on. It's kind of a weird, surreal feeling.
Baseball, during the regular season, there's so many games and so many things happening every single day. And then once you get to the post-season, even in the early stages, there's only four games going on, and then you whither it down a little bit, and a night like tonight, there's only one game going on, it's just a weird feeling for baseball because you're used to having so many games. I think this is why you play the game. I think this is what you work hard for. This is where you want to be.
You know, I know I'm going to enjoy it.
Q. Touching off that a little bit, you do such a good job during the regular season of keeping everything on an even keel. With the stakes being what they are tonight, does today feel any different for you than any other baseball day?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I think I try and make it not feel any different. I think if I sat up here and told you it didn't feel any different at all, I might be lying a little bit.
But I think having gone through this before, you know, a couple times being in elimination games, things like that; the more you worry, the more you realize you can't do anything about it. You're going to go out there, you're going to play a baseball game like you always play. Hopefully things go your way and everything turns out great.
You know, if not, you know you prepared as much as you could and you went out there and did everything you can. Hopefully that's not the case, but I think they are more fun now for me than anxious or anything like that. I mean, like I was saying, this is kind of what you want to play for. This is fun to go out there and play baseball on a stage like this and have everyone watching one game or whatever you want to talk about. You know, this is why you play.
Q. You've seen a lot of young guys obviously, but Trea Turner, what jumps out to you about him?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Right, I think his baseball IQ and his ability to make adjustments as a young guy. And I've said this all year, and I don't mean this in a bad way to other really fast players, but most really fast players are in the big leagues because they're really fast. They might not necessarily be the greatest hitter or the greatest route runner or whatever, but their speed kind of makes up for their shortcomings.
I think Trea is the complete opposite. He's a baseball player that even if he wasn't fast, would be in the big leagues, but he just so happens to be an 80 runner, and when you have that kind of combination, it's pretty special.
Q. As someone who has been in this organization basically since they moved to D.C., what does this game mean to you personally, and do you think the organization at large?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think as far as an organization, I don't want to say we have arrived or whatever. But I would say we're one of the most consistent and hopefully respected organizations in the big leagues now.
I mean, you make the playoffs three out of five years, the other two years you're kind of right in the mix, win 95 games three years. Obviously taking that next step in the playoffs and the ultimate step would be kind of the cherry on top. But I think you know, baseball is all about consistency and being able to compete each year, and ultimately try and make the playoffs.
Once you get into the playoffs, you need a couple lucky breaks. You need to get hot. You need to play well. But you know, if you would have told me ten years ago that the last five years would have gone the way that they have gone, I think it's pretty impressive how quickly this organization has got there, and with the farm system we have and the young players coming up, I don't see anything changing in the near future.
Q. What do you think you guys learned about Rich Hill in Game 2, and particularly, how to balance on his curveball, whether to go after it or sit back on it?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Well, Rich is a great story. He was actually in camp with us two years ago, I believe. And kind of what he's gone through and what he's made himself, I guess, is why baseball is almost, you know, why it's so great.
He's had a great career and he does a good job of kind of throwing that curveball for strikes and for balls on purpose. As soon as you think he's going to throw all curveballs, he sneaks a 90-, 92-mile-per-hour fastball by you. He's had a great year and put up great numbers.
You go back and look at what he did in Game 2, and he could pitch the same way; he could pitch completely different. I've watched video where he throws the majority of fastballs and then you watch and he'll throw literally 12 out of 15 curveballs. So he's just kind of a guy who I think kind of looks and sees what the other team is going to do and sort of makes adjustments on the fly.
Q. Not only have you been with the organization for a long time, but you have lived in this area for a long time. What do you think winning this game and getting to the LCS would mean for the city?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I mean, I think taking the next step would be big. I don't think it's make-or-break. I think winning the World Series is the ultimate thing. Say we win this game and don't make it out of the next round; I don't think anyone is going to be like, oh, you remember that year when we went to the Championship Series.
I mean, not trying to, you know, downplay it at all. It would be a huge step to go to the next round. But I think the ultimate goal is to win the World Series, and I think for the fan base, honestly, like I was talking about earlier, the last five years, just having a team that legitimately can make the playoffs every year, from where we came from ten years ago, I think as a city and as a fan base, to have that every year, is pretty special.
So we're going to continue to do that. And you know, hopefully, like you said, tonight we can kind of take the next step and even go further than that. I think where the organization is now and what the fan base has to root for every year, compared to what it was not too long ago, I think is pretty special.
Q. Just expanding on that, and you being here the longest, you married a girl from this area, so you're kind of entrenched in the community maybe more than anybody else. And Jayson also lives here year round. But does that give you more of a feel of what this would mean to the fans in the area, everything the last couple of days, people scrambling to try to create their own ways to get here and not deal with Metro and being able to stay late; they are pooling rides, arranging bus services. It's never been like this before.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's been fun for me to grow and also watch the fan base grow. The Senators being here way back, and not having a baseball team here for so long, this was a football town. They love the Redskins here and now the Caps, too. A whole generation missed out on baseball, so you're kind of seeing a whole generation of fans, I don't want to say learn how to be baseball fans, but kind of grow up with the team at the same time, which is unique. I don't know if too many other cities can say that they have done that.
For me to be able to kind of grow up with them, as well, and kind of have a legitimate playoff contender every year and to watch them come out and support us, it's been fun. It's been fun for me. I hope it's been fun for them, too.
Q. This is another question about how long you've been here?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: Making me feel really old right now (laughter).
Q. You've played with almost everybody who has ever played for the Washington Nationals.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: (Nodding).
Q. At a moment like this, do you ever think back to guys you played with years ago when maybe things weren't so good?
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: I don't know if I think back. I'd like to think that kind of, I guess, who I am, who I've become, a lot of this organization, too; I think some of those guys help out in the Minor Leagues. Some of those guys do things with the organization now that I played with a long time ago. They influence young kids coming up.
Yeah, I've never really thought about it that way. Maybe when I'm done playing, hopefully I'll think about it. But yeah, it's an interesting question. I don't sit back and think about those, but yeah, sometimes you think or sort of wish that those guys could kind of have a piece of what we're going through now, because those first few years, they were tough.
You know, we were in the big leagues and we were having fun because we were playing baseball, but not really having a legitimate chance to win; and you know that when you come to spring training or come to the field. You go out there and try and win every single game still, and you compete. But to have the talent that we have here now and the group of guys and just the whole organization, what it is now, compared to what it used to be, yeah, I guess maybe the biggest thing is sometimes I wish some of those guys could have this, too.