Could Monday night be Ryan Zimmerman's last with the Nationals?

Todd Dybas

WASHINGTON -- Still no Victor Robles. But, Ryan Zimmerman is back for Monday night. 

Robles' hamstring remains sore, Davey Martinez said. He's better, asked to play and is available to pinch-hit. However, he's not ready to play a game.

"He says he could go, but it's just, talked to the doctors, talked to the trainers, just don't want him, especially the way he plays, doing anything," Martinez said. "Hopefully we get through [Monday] and he's ready to go for the next game."

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There may not be that next game. Washington is down 2-1 in the best-of-five National League Division Series against Los Angeles. Max Scherzer is on the mound Monday night to try to prevent the season from ending. Zimmerman, who is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, will be at first base.

No matter when the season ends, Zimmerman's chances of being back next season are high. The club holds a not-to-be-exercised $18 million option for 2020. A buyout for $2 million is the other layer of the option. Zimmerman has said since the beginning of the season, he would like to be back. Players almost always say that, but do so without holding a functional understanding of what their next contract will look like. That's not true for Zimmerman. He wants to stay. He thinks he can still play. He understands any return will come at a severely discounted rate from the $18 million option.

"I plan on playing more games," Zimmerman said Monday. "I feel like a lot of people think I'm not going to play more games. But I feel good, I feel like I can still be very productive beyond this year.

"That being said, it doesn't make these games any less meaningful. They still have great meaning. Anytime you make the playoffs you want to take advantage of it. I think nobody takes the playoffs for granted. But some people get there a lot, some people get there once, some people never get there, you never know when it's going to be your last chance. So I think you obviously take advantage of it."

Zimmerman is in the postseason for the fifth time. He's 35 years old and about to move into a future filled with one-year contracts. Plantar fasciitis stole a large chunk of his season in 2019. The injury frustrated him because the rest of his body felt well. Zimmerman was productive in September -- an .817 OPS in 19 games -- and was 2-for-5 Friday in Game 2. Trying to grind through the most important part of the season has not allowed much time for reflection on season 15. 

"I think you just kind of think about the task at hand and worry about what's kind of in the present," Zimmerman said. "I think there will be plenty of time for me to reflect on that later when I'm done. But I do feel very lucky to be able to do what I've done. It takes some give and take on both sides, on the player's side and the organization, the team side. They have stuck with me through some injuries and some bad times and obviously I stuck with them through some bad times as well.

"But I think the situation that I've had here has been a special one. For me, my family's close, my wife is from here, so I'm lucky, I get to see my kids for 81 games. A lot of guys are on the road. So I look at it more as I'm lucky to be in this situation. I think a lot of guys would love to have this situation, but don't really have the opportunity that I've had. So I think I feel more lucky than anything."

If Zimmerman has his way, his luck will continue into next season.

Monday night's lineup:

Trea Turner (SS)

Adam Eaton (RF)

Anthony Rendon (3B)

Juan Soto (LF)

Howie Kendrick (2B)

Ryan Zimmerman (1B)

Kurt Suzuki (C)

Michael A. Taylor (CF)

Max Scherzer (P)

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Could Monday night be Ryan Zimmerman's last with the Nationals? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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