The advent of year-long interleague play is one of the biggest changes to baseball.
Zimmermann looks to continue his mastery over the Junior Circuit when he takes the ball Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox, who are expected to have Dunn back in their lineup.
In his season debut Thursday, Zimmermann (1-0, 1.50 ERA) gave up eight hits and allowed at least one baserunner in each of the six innings he pitched but was able to hold Miami to a run in a 6-1 victory.
“It’s one of those days where I had to battle,” the right-hander told the Nationals’ official website.
He might have an easier time against Chicago (4-3).
In 11 career interleague starts, Zimmermann has a 1.99 ERA - the fourth-lowest among qualifying pitchers since 2009. The White Sox are among the AL teams he has shut down, as he threw seven scoreless innings in his lone start against them in 2011.
Dunn went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in that game, and will likely be back in the lineup to face his former teammate with the Nationals in 2009 and ’10.
In making his first trip back to Nationals Park since becoming a free agent following 2010, Dunn was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season in Tuesday’s series-opening 8-7 loss. He had made five starts at DH and one at first base while batting cleanup in Chicago’s first two series.
Asked what he thinks about the different DH rules in baseball’s two leagues, Dunn replied: “I do have an opinion. But I’d like to keep it to myself, because I like my job.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said it was “more than likely” Dunn, who has two homers and three RBIs, would play in the field Wednesday.
Paul Konerko moved into the cleanup spot and played first base Tuesday, hitting a three-run homer in the seventh inning to bring the White Sox within 6-5.
Alex Rios homered in his fourth straight game, and he’s batting .407 with seven RBIs on the season. He is also hitting .412 with nine RBIs in his last seven games versus the Nationals.
Washington (5-2) had four homers Tuesday, with Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond each going deep and Adam LaRoche hitting two. LaRoche homered in consecutive at-bats to end an 0-for-15 start to the season.
“We’ve got a really balanced lineup. That’s something that we have that most teams don’t. It’s tough on matchups. It’s tough on pitchers, really,” said Werth, who has three homers and seven RBIs over the last five games. “There’s not really an easy spot in our lineup.”
The leadoff spot has been capably manned by offseason acquisition Denard Span who has a .484 on-base percentage. The former Twin is a career .486 hitter (17 for 35) against scheduled Chicago starter Gavin Floyd (0-1, 3.00).
Floyd gave up four hits and three runs - all in the fifth inning - and was taken out after six in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Kansas City.
“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and felt like it came together pretty well,” the righty told the White Sox’s official website.
Like Zimmermann, Floyd has pitched well in interleague play, recording a 2.79 ERA in 17 starts. In his last outing against the Nationals in 2010, he gave up a run over eight innings.
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham left Tuesday with nerve irritation in his left wrist, and he expects to miss “a couple of days.”