PHILADELHIA -- Matt Stairs' first hit of the season Wednesday night also was the 100th in his career as a pinch-hitter. And that, he said, is the secret of the success that made the 43-year-old wonder the active leader in that specialty and moved him into a tie with Rusty Staub for 18th on the all-time list.
"In 100 pinch-hits, there are a lot of oh-fers," he said after delivering a single in the ninth off Phillies reliever Danys Baez in the Nationals' 7-4 loss. "If it doesn't happen one night, you have to come back the next day.
"I have done a pretty good job through my career of not letting 0-for-12, 0-for-13 put me down. I knew I was stuck on 99 -- wasn't making a big deal out of it. I didn't even make contact the last four at-bats. It will be good to come to the park knowing I have an average.
"I love it, I'm not going to complain about pinch-hitting. I could pinch-hit every game. The situation where you can be the hero or the gopher, I like being in that situation."
And what did the nice round No. 100 mean to him?
"Means I'm old," said Stairs. "I tip my hat to the guys in front of me."
Nats' Zimmerman takes first steps in recovery
PHILADELPHIA -- Walk a mile in Jim Riggleman's shoes with a team 14th in runs scored in the National League, 15th in batting average and a star hitter out for six more weeks.
If it is any consolation to the Nats manager, Ryan Zimmerman walked a mile Wednesday on a treadmill, only 24 hours after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.
"Took me about 30 minutes," smiled the third baseman Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I was flying.
"It was a slow mile, but I made it."
Riggleman could use a little more bat speed up and down the lineup to help what has been solid starting pitching. He will just have to stay as patient as Zimmerman plans to be in his recuperation.
"I am still a young guy and have a lot of baseball left to play," said Zimmerman. "It's frustrating, I get impatient, but the most important thing is to stay with what [surgeon Bill Meyers and the Nationals' medical team] want me to do.
"[Meyers] said it was exactly what he thought it was. Most important, he thinks the timetable they set before he went in is just about the right time. That's good to hear.
"I've learned you never cancel out either being early or being late -- it's one of those things where the human body is a weird thing. Could be longer, shorter, you never know. Main thing is the doctors said everything looked good."
Zimmerman, who was bothered by the injury during Spring Training, said he had no regrets about not having the surgery before he did further damage in a slide.
"I don't think it was at the point I would have gotten it fixed until I slid into second in New York [on April 9]," he said. "That's the thing that kind of took me over the edge.
"You can look back and say, 'I could have gone to this guy' in the beginning, but in the beginning, nothing really showed up on the MRI. When I took it to the next level and actually tore it, we needed to get it fixed. To let it heal on its own would have taken a long time -- had to expedite the healing process."
Zimmerman will return to Washington on Thursday, and he won't do much more than walk the first week.
"I'm pretty sore and should be sore for the next week or so," he said. "The first week is basically take it easy, don't do anything and let it heal."
Nationals shuffle lineup with Ankiel resting
PHILADELPHIA -- Rick Ankiel's wrist, injured making a catch on Monday night, required at least another night's rest, so Jerry Hairston replaced the Nationals' center fielder in the lineup for a second consecutive night on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
And when left fielder Michael Morse came to Jim Riggleman before the game to inform the manager he felt some discomfort in his right knee, the Nationals, already missing Ryan Zimmerman for another six weeks, had three starters out.
"Right before the game, he indicated to me he had done something he just couldn't shake," said Riggleman.
"He said it doesn't feel right -- I guess he was letting me know if he's not going first to third, or maybe I shouldn't start him running on a 3-1 count. I didn't want to start him and have to pull him. We could have used him to pinch-hit."
Before the game, Riggleman had an update on Ankiel.
"[Ankiel] went through some treatment yesterday, made a little progress, but he did a little more to [the wrist] than we thought," he said. "It's a nagging thing -- he's just not real comfortable going out and taking batting practice.
"We're going to shut him down for the night. If there is an emergency situation and we have to use him, we will have him available. He may be available to pinch-hit."
Before Laynce Nix replaced Morse in left just before the first pitch, Riggleman had said he was too concerned about defense to use Ankiel's absence as an opportunity to get another good bat -- Nix, at .310 is one of the few Nationals not struggling -- into the lineup.
"We never did that in Spring Training," said the manager. "He has some history out there, but any time you feel like your guys are doing pretty well out there defensively, we are trying to stay with that.
"We gave thought to Morse at third base, but we're going to stay with [Alex] Cora and Hairston. We want to get [Nix] some more work out there before he gets in a game and be sure what we're going to get."
Defense clearly is a priority. One month into the season, the Nationals have the third lowest fielding percentage in the National League, but their manager believes they have shown progress.
"We just did not play good defense for a week or 10 days," Riggleman said. "Since that time, we have regrouped. We have been about an average Major League club, a big upgrade from last year."
Nats mourn passing of Johnson's stepson
Michael Jacob "Jake" Allen, the 34-year-old stepson of Davey Johnson, the senior advisor to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, passed away on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., from infection and pneumonia.
"Though hearing and visually impaired since birth, it is Jake's fighting spirit for which he shall be remembered," said Rizzo in a statement Wednesday.
"Anyone who knows of Davey and [Johnson's daughter] Susan's limitless devotion to Jake and the positive energy they brought to his life cannot help but stand humbled. Their enormous impact on programs and services for the disabled community reflects not only their love for Jake, but also a deep sense of compassion and responsibility."
A memorial service for Allen will take place at Florida Hospital Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Orlando at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in Jake's memory to Lighthouse Central Florida in Orlando.
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.