Washington Nationals: 2016 looking like another lost season for Ryan Zimmerman

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May 28, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) is congratulated by Nationals shortstop Stephen Drew (10) after hitting a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Nationals Park. The Cardinals won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
May 28, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) is congratulated by Nationals shortstop Stephen Drew (10) after hitting a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Nationals Park. The Cardinals won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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After just one week of health, Ryan Zimmerman is back on the disabled list — a scenario he and the Washington Nationals know all too well.

Long before Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg became household names, Ryan Zimmerman was the face of the Washington Nationals. He was the lone bright spot of one of the worst-performing franchises in the game, and the impact that he had on this team and this city is unquestionable.

For many, Zimmerman is still the Face of the Franchise. He’s still that name that you look for in the lineup, and the steady veteran who you hope will eventually play a critical role in the team’s first World Series title — whenever that might be.

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But the fact is that the last several years just haven’t gone the way Zimmerman and the Nationals wanted (and needed) them to go. Injuries have plagued Zimmerman for most of his career now, and this year has been no different.

The 31-year-old first baseman has played in just 80 of the team’s 111 games this season. His first sting on the disabled list came just last month, when a left rib-cage strain cost him 13 games. Zimmerman rejoined the big league team on July 26, but played just six games before returning to the disabled list yesterday, this time with a left-wrist contusion caused by a hit-by-pitch.

Here’s what manager Dusty Baker had to say about Zimmerman’s latest DL stint, via the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes:

"“Zim’s a little down about it because he’s tired of being hurt and tired of being on the DL,” Baker said. “But I told him to play the game in his mind as if he were there. Also, him and Joe Ross will both be still stronger when everybody else is weak and tired down the stretch. There’s still ample time for them to play hero when it really, really counts at the end.”"

Perhaps the most troubling part of Zimmerman’s injuries, particularly this season, is that he hasn’t played well when he has been in the game. Zimmerman is having one of his worst seasons at the plate, batting .222 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. The fact that he hasn’t been able to shake off the injury bug, combined with his poor play this season, leaves little reason to be optimistic about what Zimmerman can bring to the table in the remainder of the season.

Of course, this is a movie that Zimmerman and the Nationals have seen far too many times. Last year, injuries limited him to just 95 games. He played just 61 games in the Nationals’ NL East-winning 2014 season. Zimmerman has played in at least 140 games just three times in the last six seasons.

The sad truth is that those were his prime years, and injuries hampered his ability to lead the team he helped create.

Next: Nationals Reaction: Something Special Is Happening In D.C.

The good news this time around is that Zimmerman has avoided the big, season-compromising injury that seems to derail him every year. There are still at least two months left in the 2016 season, and Zimmerman will be back in time to help the Nationals down the stretch and into the postseason.

Hopefully for Zimmerman, the first baseman will be back sooner rather than later, and he’ll get to play a role in whatever the rest of the season has in store for the Nationals.

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