Ryan Zimmerman has 'an arthritic shoulder' — manager Matt Williams

David Brown
Big League Stew
Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) throws to second base during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

For several reasons, for several seasons, the talk has been that Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals eventually will play first base instead of his current position, third. Zimmerman has soft hands and good range, but his throws have been erratic from time to time. Plus, top prospect Anthony Rendon is a trained third baseman, though he has converted to second for now. Plus, slugger Adam LaRoche won't be around forever to play first, and is somewhat more expendable (sorry, Adam) than the other players.

Zimmerman's physical condition might be forcing the so-called inevitable to happen sooner rather than later, Nats manager Matt Williams told 106.7 FM "The Fan" in D.C.:

“But we have to look at Ryan, though, and say ‘Would I like Ryan to play third?’” Williams said. “Yea, I would. For a long time? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, Ryan’s got an arthritic shoulder.

“It gives him problems, and sometimes it’s tough on him,” he said. “So we’ve started to do some things at first base, with him, where we can give him a break sometimes, in that regard, so he can go play first; he enjoys playing first; we did a little bit at spring training, worked hard at the position, and he enjoys it over there."

It obviously takes a lot of work by the medical staff and Zimmerman to keep him healthy enough to play third, and with the National League not using a DH most of the time, third base is where Zim will have to play most of the time. LaRoche could sit against left-handed pitching, but that's going to be infrequently and might not even match up with days that Zimmerman's shoulder bothers him.

Zimmerman is 29 years old, his contract runs through at least 2019, and a lot of his value is tied to him being able to play third. His production looks a lot closer to average as a first baseman. But if his shoulder won't allow him to play at the hot corner, the Nats will be in a pickle with Zim.

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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