If the Nationals see improvement during that reevaluation in two weeks, Zimmerman could begin strengthening exercises, Williams said. But until then, the future of Zimmerman's 2014 season remains in limbo.
"You don't know until he starts strengthening it, until he starts doing stuff with it and [you can see] how it reacts," Williams said. "Guys heal at different speeds, so it depends on what he can do after the two-week process, and then we evaluate again after that. But there's not going to anything new for a couple weeks because he's not doing anything. There's not tests that we can put him through that would say, 'Well, you've progressed X amount,' or anything like that because he's just shut down."
The Nationals provided a glimpse into the potential severity of Zimmerman's injury when they traded for Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Cabrera will take over the starting job at second base, and general manager Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman's absence was the deciding factor in the deal.
"With a healthy Zim and a healthy eight players that we had, we certainly wouldn't have found the need to go out and acquire a player as skillful as Cabrera," Rizzo said. "When Zim went down, to protect ourselves, we felt we should go out and get ourselves a good veteran, a person to fit into the lineup."
Zimmerman, who missed 44 games earlier this season with a fractured thumb fracture, was on the field for batting practice Thursday afternoon with his glove, wearing sneakers and baseball pants. He walked gingerly around the diamond and engaged in conversation with a number of his teammates, but he didn't participate in any physical activity.
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. He also can be found on Twitter @danielrpopper. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.