WASHINGTON — This will be Ryan Zimmerman’s 16th season with the Washington Nationals. He signed a one year, one million dollar deal this offseason. The excitement over Ryan Zimmerman's return to spring training is palpable. Mr. National is back, and the Nats are happy to have him.
“He’s Ryan Zimmerman, he’s the guy that you look at, he’s the face of the Nationals. This guy has a lot of big moments, Mr. Clutch. To be able to have him here, to come back, I’m really excited about it,” said Zimmerman’s new teammate, Kyle Schwarber.
“I’m just happy to be back, to be around the guys and joke around, laugh. I missed that,” said Zimmerman. Zimmerman took his entire family to Spring Training with him this year.
Now 36 years old, Zimmerman will have a more limited role this year, and he’s OK with that. The Nationals signed Josh Bell in the offseason as their primary first baseman, and this spring, Bell is learning as much as he can from Zim.
“To be able to pick his brain as much as I can, he’s faced all the guys I’m going to face this year. He also knows all the umpires, he knows all the zones and he knows the N.L. East Division more than anybody else,” Nationals new first baseman Josh Bell said.
“We all know him as the Captain around here. He’s welcomed Josh with open arms. He’s going to support him and help him. They are both going to get playing time but Zimmerman understands that Josh is going to get most of the playing time.”
But don’t mistake Zimmerman’s backup role for a guy eying retirement. Zimmerman made it clear: he’s no where near hanging it up for good.
“I mean the competition is fun. That’s what drives us. I missed that a lot at home last year. It’s what we need to survive, I guess. Taking that season off last year made me realize I’m no where close to being ready to not play anymore,” said Zimmerman.
The Nationals' first game of spring training is Sunday, Feb.28. The first pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.