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Zimmerman expects to be ready Opening Day

VIERA , Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman acknowledged that his surgically repaired right shoulder is not 100 percent, but he expects to be ready by Opening Day.

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On Friday, Zimmerman was able to perform fielding drills and threw from 75 feet.

"We are obviously going to take it slow, but I've been hitting and throwing almost two-and-a-half weeks," Zimmerman said. "Just like anything when you first start to do something, it's going to be sore. You are going to get through good days and bad days. But there have been way more good days than bad days."

Despite having a bad shoulder last season, Zimmerman was productive at the plate, hitting .282 with 25 home runs and 95 RBIs. However, he had problems throwing the baseball. For example, he had an awkward, robotic throwing motion to first base.

"We went through some things last year. [The trainers] did a good job of getting me healthy enough to contribute," Zimmerman said. "Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't work, and it was frustrating for everyone involved, myself included. ...

"With the team that we had last year, there was no way [that I was going to take myself out of the game]. Obviously, sometimes it didn't look so good. It was probably the first time I felt uncomfortable on a baseball field at any time. We battled through it, and the training staff did a great job."

Manager Davey Johnson said he plans to start Zimmerman slowly. He probably will not play in any games for about three weeks. Zimmerman reiterated that he needs only 50 at-bats to get ready for the season.

"He is a smart guy, veteran player. He knows what his body can do and can't do," Johnson said of Zimmerman. "But I'm really pleased he had that procedure and talking [to the team doctor], he needed it. [Zimmerman is] excited about it. He volunteered to me that he is going to [have a regular throwing motion]."

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