Zimmerman Beats to Rhythm of the Club
On the surface, it was just an everyday sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the eighth during an early April road win vs. the Mets. But a closer look reveals the selfless team-first attitude that earned third baseman Ryan Zimmerman his 500th career RBI, making him the first Nationals player to...
On the surface, it was just an everyday sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the eighth during an early April road win vs. the Mets. But a closer look reveals the selfless team-first attitude that earned third baseman Ryan Zimmerman his 500th career RBI, making him the first Nationals player to do so since the team’s arrival in Washington, D.C.
“Anytime you are lucky enough to do something like that, I guess it’s pretty cool,” said Zimmerman in a recent interview on nationals.com. “It’s very humbling. Hopefully, I’ll have a few more 500s.”
The fourth overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and the franchise’s first-ever selection, has proved to be a good one. The 6-foot-3, 228-pound third baseman is already a Gold Glove Award winner (‘09) and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner (‘09-‘10).
In Spring Training, Nationals EVP of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo signed Zimmerman to an extension through 2019, securing the services of the man described as the face of the franchise for at least the next eight seasons.
“This is the cornerstone of the organization,” said Rizzo during a Spring Training press conference announcing the deal. “This was the number one order of business going into the offseason. We’ve been talking about this for a long, long time.”
Zimmerman’s dedication and commitment to Washington is reflected in the fine print of his contract, which provides the financial flexibility for Rizzo to re-sign the young foundation of the team and attract outside talent.
“This (contract) is basically built to have them be able to keep our core guys in place and that was important to me,” explained Zimmerman. “I know that I am going to be here and I know I give them the flexibility you need to have all these other guys, my teammates, here for the future with me.”
Nationals Manager Davey Johnson has compared Zimmerman to another baseball great, one he had the pleasure to have as a teammate during his playing days.
“I think Brooks Robinson is the greatest third baseman I’ve ever seen, and I see a lot of that in Zim. He makes plays that I don’t even think ‘Brooksy’ could have made,” said Johnson.
Zimmerman is the total package on and off the field. The Washington, North Carolina native founded the ziMS Foundation, which he started on behalf of his mother, Cheryl, who in 1995 was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The chronic and unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system is found in over 400,000 Americans.
As a part of his contract, Zimmerman is guaranteed at least one day at Nationals Park each season to hold an event for the foundation. Last year’s Night at the Park, hosted by NBC News Political Director and White House Correspondent Chuck Todd, raised enough funds for Zimmerman to present a $30,000 check to the National Capital Chapter of the National MS Society.
“This has been my home for the last five years,” said Zimmerman. “We ultimately want to make the ziMS Foundation bigger and better. The next step was to bring it to a bigger and better city. And there is not a bigger and better city in the world to do something like this than D.C.”