MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Zimmerman looking to play instructional games

Zimmerman looking to play instructional games

NEW YORK -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is expected to travel to Viera Fla., after Sunday's game against Mets, to start playing instructional league games by Tuesday, according to manager Matt Williams.

Zimmerman, who has been on the disabled list since July 23 because of a Grade 3 hamstring strain, is expected to play third and first base, along with left field.

"That's kind of a tentative plan. It all depends how he comes out with all the workouts and all the tests," Williams said. "I think he has to get to the point where he just plays and doesn't think. Ultimately, that's what he has to do anyway.

"We are doing baby steps with him in that regard, he will go three innings, five innings, play seven innings, he'll get a DH day and play nine. That's four days at least and a bunch of at-bats. The good thing we can do is lead innings off and he can have those multiple at-bats. That's important."

Zimmerman acknowledged that it's tough to sit out as long as he has. But he is happy knowing the Nationals are close to winning a National League East title.

"The team has been playing great, so it has made it a little easier, but I miss competing, just being out there," Zimmerman said. "I miss being a part of a team. It's a fun team to be a part of."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.