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Jordan Zimmermann feeling confident, healthy during return

After making his first three major league starts since returning from Tommy John surgery, Jordan Zimmermann has been surprised by only one thing. His arm always used to ache two days after he pitched, even when he felt completely healthy. Now, that pain is gone.

"The next two days after, my elbow probably feels a little better than it felt before," Zimmermann said. "It just seems like I come back a little faster."

On the field, Zimmermann's return to the major leagues has been as smooth as he could have hoped. Zimmermann has surrendered six earned runs in 14 innings, going six innings in one start and four in his two others while throwing between 70 and 86 pitches. Most important, his elbow has felt even stronger than when he pitched at full health.

"I think it's going as well it can right now," Zimmermann said. "I've just got to keep moving forward every start."

His next start will come Sunday against the Marlins, the team he one-hit over six innings while facing the minimum on Aug. 31. Manager Jim Riggleman said Zimmermann, barring any unforeseen setbacks, will start every fifth game until the season ends.

In Zimmermann's remaining starts, the Nationals will continue to restrict him to five or six innings per starts as a precaution. Zimmermann said he's felt strong enough to continue, but understands "it's just the up-and-downs that they're worried about" - the number of times he pitches an innings, rests and then pitches again.

The Nationals have discussed Zimmermann's innings limit for next year and decided they will employ one. The Nationals have not settled on an exact number, but it will be determined by factoring the innings he threw last year and the innings he throws this year.

In the offsesason, Zimmermann will take the time between the season and spring training off completely. The time away will be welcome for Zimmermann, who has either rehabbed or pitched constantly since a few weeks after his August 2009 surgery. "It would be nice to have a couple months off here," Zimmermann said.

While he rests, Zimmermann will be able to offer advice to Stephen Strasburg, who on Sept. 4 underwent his own Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann texted Strasburg two days after his operation. Strasburg responded with a text message letting Zimmermann know that "everything went well."

If Strasburg's recovery goes as well as Zimmermann's, he'll be able to say the same thing in a year.

"I know if I execute my pitches and pitch the way I normally pitch, I'll be fine," Zimmermann said. "I guess coming back, after I pitch, it's kind of surprising how much better you feel."

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 11, 2010; 12:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good luck Sunday, JZnn. Looks like you'll have to shut the fish down again if the Nats are to have any chance.

Posted by: nats24 | September 11, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

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