Ryan Zimmerman to miss 4-6 weeks after fracturing right thumb

Ryan Zimmerman dodged a broken bat on Friday and has played through an arthritic throwing shoulder this season, but he won't be able to avoid the disabled list any longer after suffering a broken right thumb on Saturday night in Atlanta.

Zimmerman suffered the injury on a head-first dive back into second base on a pick-off attempt. Adding insult to injury, he wasn't able to make it back.

It was apparent Zimmerman knew something was wrong right away. He took his time getting off the field and was favoring the thumb quite noticeably the entire time. When he didn't return to play defense, it became clear this might be a significant situation, and unfortunately that was proven to be the case on the x-rays.

The Nationals have announced Zimmerman will miss 4-6 weeks.

It's a tough blow for the Nationals lineup. Despite the shoulder issue, which has hampered his defense greatly, Zimmerman is hitting .364/.405/.636 with two homers, three doubles and six RBI through their first 11 games. His production won't be easily replaced, but the good news is Washington does have the infield depth to survive his absence. Starting second baseman Anthony Rendon can and likely will slide over to third base on a daily basis, while Danny Espinosa, a starting caliber player in his own right, takes over at second base.

It's not a bad set up at all, and it could be a precursor for if or when Zimmerman starts spending time at first base. That almost seems inevitable now, and if Zimmerman's shoulder isn't feeling much better after 4-6 weeks, it could come sooner than later.

Also, they have this kid named Bryce Harper who can heat up at any time and carry the offense for weeks, so that helps, too.

As for Washington's corresponding roster move, it looks like prospect Zach Walters is on his way to make the occasional start.

Despite the depth and silver linings, Saturday night was still miserable for Washington. And to cap it all off, they dropped yet another game to Braves, 6-3. They're now 1-4 against Atlanta this season but 7-0 against everyone else.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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