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Zimmerman leftovers and morning links

A team's best player is going to lead his teammates, but that doesn't mean he'll lead them in the right direction. That's one slice of why the Nationals feel so fortunate to have Ryan Zimmerman on their side. Zimmerman is such an obvious and skilled leader that Mike Rizzo has considered naming him captain, something Zimmerman didn't react all that comfortably to. Zimmerman feels like leaders arrive at that point by emerging, not by annointment.

"I'm a believer that leaders don't really say anything about it," Zimmerman said, "They just go about their business and do things the way they've always done it. Some guys do things differently. Leaders don't come out and say I'm this or I'm that. Just do what you do, and other people follow you."

Still, because of the makeup of this year's team, Zimmerman feels like he can take more a more active, but still subtle, role in the leadership department. To Zimmerman, this is "sort of a transition year, where we go from being that team to the team that we want to be." It's a more veteran team, and the issues that will arrise should be ironed out by those veterans before Jim Riggleman needs to step in, he thinks.

Leading is "not the easiest thing to do for players in our era," Riggleman said. "You have so many players now from so many different backgrounds. Certainly, we need to find some leaders. If it comes from the players, that the best. If it doesn't come from the players, then the manager and the coaches have got to supply that. I think Ryan is ready to step up in the role a little bit.

"When your best players are guys that don't really have to put a lot of work and don't put a lot of work and they are malcontents - the term that used to be used is 'clubhouse lawyers' - that's a bad situation," Riggleman added. "There's going to be a certain amount of people who are going to follow them because they are good players. We don't have that. That was one of the things I really enjoyed about this ballclub last year. Our guys were very responsive to what was said to them. They took instruction well. It comes off a little - 'We lost 103 games, but they took instruction well.' You know what, it doesn't always show up in the win-loss column. But the atmosphere that we're creating, their willingness to listen and learn, creates an atmosphere where we've got a chance to keep getting better. If I ask [Adam] Dunn and maybe Zimmerman to do something a little different than they've done before, they were like, yeah, sounds good, we'll do that."

After spring games, when a lot of players have gone home, Rizzo will sometimes walk past Zimmerman in the weight room and say, "I see you, I see the extra work you're doing." Zimmerman's ability is going earn him respect regardless of his work ethic, and Rizzo called him the team's hardest worker, too.

"You can really tell how hard he works when it's like September," reliever Jason Bergmann said. "Our season was already lost last year. We had 85, 90 losses. He's in the cage before anybody else gets to the park. You can say that after the year he had last year, he could cut it back a little bit. I don't think he has one bit. He's come in even more ready than last year."

As for the captaincy: It serves to honor the player, but more tangibly it can only serve to complicate matters. When the Red Sox went through any kind of negotiation with Jason Varitek, he and his agent, Scott Boras, used that as a chip, which helped heighten bitterness on both sides. Zimmerman is obviously at a different point in his career, and he and the Nationals have had nothing but a harmonious relationship. But you can think of a million subtle ways in which a 'C' on any player's chest would add more harm than good. Besides, everyone knows what Zimmerman is to the Nationals without an official desigation.

At least one person agrees that it wouldn't be a good idea. Meanwhile, one of Zimmerman's potential future teammates, Bryce Harper, is staying focused on baseball. The Nationals pitchers had another rough day yesterday, and unlike the day before, the wind wasn't at fault this time. Miguel Batista says to ignore the first two rough days, because he thinks the Nationals can win now. Ian Desmond was a bright spot yesterday.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 6, 2010; 7:45 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Breaking down two days of bad Nationals pitching
Next: John Lannan likely to start Opening Day for the Nationals


Is this the third or fourth March in a row that we've read the exact same article about Zimmm taking on a leadership role and the team taking on a new attitude?

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 6, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Google News archive search feature is great, I answered my own question in less than a minute: This is the fourth spring where Ryan has been declared the clubhouse leader in charge of turning this team around, he's been on the case since 2007.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 6, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

"Besides, everyone knows what Zimmerman is to the Nationals without an official designation." As did the Yankees pre-2003. Let him grow into it (esp. his comfort level), as Jeter did, and award it after the fact.

And so The Chosen One discussion begins. Saw a video recently of one of his home his front foot (back foot completely elevated)! Doesn't say much about mechanics, but still. It's always about potential, and I'm looking forward to the Team Boras hyperbole.

Posted by: joemktg1 | March 6, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Adam, I'm really liking the frequent posts, especially early in the morning like this one. Thanks.

But good grief, man, your spelling and punctuation mistakes are scary. This is just sloppy:

"When you're best players are guys that don't really have to put a lot of work..."

"But the atmosphere that we're creating, they're willingness to listen and learn..."

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 6, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

The drafting of Harper is going to bring a lot more risk than the drafting of Strasburg.
Strasburg was essentially out of options, he had to sign or not play. Play independent minor leagues, no way. Play in Japan. Nope. So he had to sign.

Harper and family and Boras are already discussing how Bryce may or not want to enter the draft next year, may or may not want to return to college or transfer to a different college. They're trying to build leverage.
With Strasburg we held all the cards, and Rizzo played the hand perfectly.
With Harper, for whoever drafts him, it's going to be a lot more dicey.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 6, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Stop it with the complaints about spelling and grammer... this is a baseball blog, getting info out as best as possible to its audience, and at that Kilgore is doing a great job... this is not an attempt at Pulitzer prize winning journalism or the great American novel... geeze, lighten up, this isn't going through his editor for review and revision...

Posted by: rumbly45 | March 6, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Attaboy, Zimm! (Peter Franchise just doesn't work for me.)

Speaking of clubhouse lawyers -- well, judges actually -- what's the scoop on Kangaroo Courts for the team? Maybe Frank could come back as special judicial adviser to the team. :-)

Speaking of former skippers, I see that Acta's Indians had a 9-2 victory over the Reds in their first ST game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Here comes the judge:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

natsfan, loved that article, thanks. Brooks Robinson, showboating, too much.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 6, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Saw a video recently of one of his home his front foot (back foot completely elevated)! Doesn't say much about mechanics

Gold glove, silver splinter (in a hitters position), but hit a home run with his feet wrong, so the heck with him.

Posted by: markfromark | March 6, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

The proofreading elves are a long-time NJ tradition (from the Blogfather days, even), and it *is* a journalistic site. One would think that newspaper writers are accustomed to having editors bleed all over their copy, and wouldn't have "rabbit ears" in that regard. It comes with the territory, and it's nothing personal.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Sunderland. I enjoyed it, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Saw a video recently of one of his home his front foot (back foot completely elevated)! Doesn't say much about mechanics

Gold glove, silver splinter (in a hitters position), but hit a home run with his feet wrong, so the heck with him.

Yep, ever seen Vlad Guerrero hit, awful mechanics. He'll never make it in thee big show.

Maybe what the video showed was Bryce harper getting fooled by a pitch, expecting fastball but recognizing an off-speed pitch, slowing down his upper half and putting enough on the ball to put it out. Maybe instead of bad mechanics, it was an amazing adjustment and an amazing feat.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 6, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Just to clarify, I'm not in any way suggesting that our new blogman (need a moniker for him, but I'm sure that will come with time) has rabbit ears. I mainly just wanted to use the term in a baseball writer context. :-)

I really appreciate the stepped up volume of new posts here, and I liked what AK said about plans for the blog in the interview with Mr. Irrelevant. Go get 'em, Kilgore!

Speaking of other blogs, thanks to the blog staff for adding Nats Insider to the list. Might it be possible to add MASN as well? Oh, and maybe to alphabetize the baseball resources list as was done with the Natosphere? (God, don't you just hate those pinch-lipped editorial types? Oh, and does "anal retentive" have a hyphen?)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with the grammar gestapo on this blog, but I would request that folks change their names...
CoverageisLacking can now become GrammarisMissing...

Posted by: TimDz | March 6, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least by Wednesday we'll have numbers for everybody in camp. The first two days results were bad enough to cause hives, or temporary blindness in some cases.

Note to 1a1: No hyphen.

Posted by: BinM | March 6, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Thaz y thehy pay dee editorz too fixe meestakz ihn kopy, write?

Hang in there, Adam. This post is filled with frustrated copy editor wannabes. Keep the raw feeds coming. We can decipher. Or most of us can.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | March 6, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Copy editors: the second base umpires of journalism.
But if you can't laugh at your own mistakes, laugh at other people's mistakes.

"Do plural's get apostrophe's?"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 6, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

She's not really missing, she's just at the bar getting a drink. She'll be back by the next inning.
CoverageisLacking can now become GrammarisMissing ...
Posted by: TimDz | March 6, 2010 9:23 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 6, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

It's just an old joke among the ranks of the editing/proofreading community, BinM, but thanks for weighing in.

For the record, I can laugh at my own mistakes, as well as my own jokes (hey, somebody has to do it). ;-)

Also for the record, I believe that the Post canned most of the proofreader types some time ago.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 6, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

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