Oppo homer latest good sign for Zimmerman

Oppo homer latest good sign for Zimmerman

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are already seeing the signs that Ryan Zimmerman is healthy. His home run in the second inning of Wednesday night's 6-4 victory against the Marlins was the latest in a run of encouraging signs that Zimmerman is due for a rebound in 2017.

Zimmerman drove a ball high and on the outer half of the plate for a line-drive, opposite-field home run off Marlins right-hander Dan Straily that went 104.6 mph and traveled 386 feet, as tracked by Statcast™.

"He's healthy. He feels good. You see his confidence growing daily," Nats manager Dusty Baker said. "He hit a tough pitch out to right field. That's a good sign, especially this early in the year when that ball's not flying out there too much until it warms up. Anything he gives us is big, especially in the middle of that lineup. He's getting better every day."

This Nationals offense has the potential to be one of the best in team history. They have National League Most Valuable Player Award candidates in Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, a budding star in Trea Turner and solid players in Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton. The Nationals would love more right-handed power, and the team still believes Zimmerman can be a major contributor.

He has struggled the last three seasons, but he has also battled through a litany of injuries. Now that Zimmerman is healthy and not coming off any sort of injury, the Nats are betting that at 32 years old, he has something left in the tank.

"I've already noticed, just his swings and everything looks healthy," right-hander Tanner Roark said. "He's out there swinging with bat speed, I noticed tonight and even Spring Training. He's been very doing very well. I feel like he's prepared and I feel like he wants to prove something that he can still be the guy that he was."

Whether Zimmerman can stay on the field remains to be seen, but he could strengthen an already deep lineup. In his last healthy season in 2013, Zimmerman put together a .809 OPS and was worth 3.7 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. If he can stay on the field for an entire year, he believes his production could approach that again.

"For me, it's all about staying healthy, staying on the field and getting my work in on a daily basis," Zimmerman said. "I feel like if I can do that, I can still put up the numbers that I should put up.

"The last few years have been frustrating, but a lot of that's been not consistently being able to stay on the field. This game's hard enough, when you can't play every day or you have to take a month off here, 2-3 weeks off here, it's hard to get into a rhythm. So for me, it's just staying on the field, being able to do everything that I do each day, and I still have confidence that I'm able to do what I'm supposed to do."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.