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Ryan Zimmerman out of lineup again; no timetable for return

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman missed his fifth consecutive start Friday with hamstring tightness suffered April 10 against the New York Mets. Zimmerman entered Thursday's win over the Philadelphia Phillies as a pinch hitter and hit a game-winning home run, but he is not entirely healthy to start against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.

Zimmerman did not rule himself out for the three-game series this weekend, although neither he nor Manager Jim Riggleman provided a timetable for his return to the starting lineup.

"I'm getting closer and closer every day," Zimmerman said. "The biggest thing is I don't want to go all this time and then come back one or two days early and have to start over again."

This is the primary reason why Riggleman continues to hold the franchise's star position player out of the lineup. Zimmerman said the issue is not a lingering injury and if it were a playoff game, he would play. But in the first month of the season, it is more prudent for the team to error on the side of caution.

"By using him yesterday, we really got to be careful because we're starting the clock 15 days over again," Riggleman said. "We really got to make sure when I put him in there that he doesn't have an injury related to this. If something happens otherwise, there's not much you can do. But that specific area, we want to make sure he's 100 percent before we him in there."

Zimmerman ran in the outfield before Friday's game, but has not yet sprinted. Running the bases is the part of his game that remains significantly affected. Riggleman said Zimmerman is available as a pinch hitter Friday, but the manager will try to avoid using Zimmerman in a double-play situation, if possible.

"If he hits one that is a potential double play, we're just going to have to eat it and get doubled up instead of trying to beat it out, because that's where you aggravate it," Riggleman said.

Of course, that issue is alleviated if Zimmerman hits a pinch-hit home run for the second consecutive game.

"I could have had a broken leg and I would have been alright," Zimmerman said.

By Zach Berman  |  April 16, 2010; 6:07 PM ET
 | Tags: Jim Riggleman, Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals  
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