Jordan Zimmermann comes back tonight
The trouble with Jordan Zimmermann's arm started unbeknownst to the Nationals. On June 25 last year, Zimmermann allowed the Boston Red Sox one run on five hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking one. He became the second pitcher to strike out Dustin Pedroia twice in the same game. "He's got the stuff of a number one," Pedroia said afterward. "He's not afraid. He's going to be good for a long time."
Nothing was outwardly amiss. Already, though, Zimmermann had started keeping secret the growing pain in his elbow. It hurt every pitch, and days after he pitched he could not straighten his arm.
"When I was throwing when I was injured, it would be a sharp pain every time I threw," Zimmermann said. "It would stiffen up so bad after, the next day I could barely get it even close to straight."
Less than a month after Zimmermann dominated the Red Sox, he struck out eight Chicago Cubs, tying his career high, in only 5 1/3 innings while yielding four runs and taking the loss. Afterward, Nationals coaches noticed him shaking his arm. Zimmermann had thrown his last pitch of the season.
"He didn't let anybody know there were issues until long after there were issues," Riggleman said. "That's why we appreciate [Stephen] Strasburg speaking up. Jordan probably pitched at least a month, if not more, when he felt something wasn't right."
Tonight, Zimmermann will see reason for hope in his counterpart. Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young in 2005 at age 30. In 2007 his elbow started aching, and in July that year he underwent Tommy John surgery. So he made one start in 2007 and three in 2008. He came back in 2009 and finished second in the Cy Young voting. He is 31-8 since 2009 began with a 159 ERA+ and a 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
When scouts talk about a pitcher who had his ulnar collateral ligament replaced, they say he's a guy who got "a new elbow." The road back is hard, but once you travel it, you really are back. Zimmermann, 24, is thankful he is.
"I feel like it's my debut again," Zimmermann said. "It's kind of like a second debut, I guess. It's taken me a little over a year, a lot of hard work to get back to where I want to be. It's been a long trip, I guess you can say."
FROM THE POST
The full story on Jordan Zimmermann making it back to the big leagues.
The Nationals wasted Jason Marquis's best start this year in a 4-0 loss to the Cubs that completed a sweep.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Lehigh Valley 0: Boomer Whiting went 1 for 4 with and stole home. Danny Espinosa went 2 for 3. Shairon Martis allowed no runs in 7 2/3 innings on two hits and four walks, striking out five.
Harrisburg 5, Portland 3: Stephen Lombardozzi went 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and a home run. Brad Peacock allowed no earned runs in 5 2/3 innings on six hits and three walks, striking out two.
Potomac 7, Wilmington 5: Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with a grand slam. Derek Norris went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Delmarva 4, Hagerstown 3: Rick Hague went 2 for 5 with two doubles. J.P. Ramirez went 4 for 5.
Connecticut 6, Vermont 5: Jason Martinson went 3 for 3 with a walk.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Mark Zuckerman examined the best five days in Nats' history.
Jason Marquis deserved better, Ben Goessling says.
Federal Baseball chatted with Joe Posnanski about Stephen Strasburg.
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