Nats teammates thrilled for Zimmerman
Harper, Desmond among 16 on hand for extension announcement
VIERA, Fla. -- How much respect does third baseman Ryan Zimmerman have in the Nationals' organization? There were 16 of his teammates -- including outfielder Bryce Harper and shortstop Ian Desmond -- at the news conference to announce on Sunday that Zimmerman signed a six-year, $100 million extension.
Zimmerman acknowledged he was nervous when he saw his teammates in the news conference room at Space Coast Stadium.
"The whole team showed up to make me even more nervous to talk," Zimmerman said. "It's their goal [to win the World Series], too. I'm happy to be part of this clubhouse with them. I wouldn't have done this with any other team, so it's special."
Desmond has known Zimmerman since 2005. Desmond feels that signing Zimmerman to an extension shows how much the Nationals' front office wants to win.
"It's just another indication that organization is moving in the right direction," Desmond said. "... To see Zim happy at home and not have to work about that anymore, it's going to be nice. It's good that the deal got done. It's kind of a good faith-type thing. I think it would have gotten ugly if the deal didn't get done. I'm happy for him. We definitely need him."
Harper, a sports history buff, was aware that Zimmerman was the first player drafted by the Nationals. Harper called Zimmerman the cornerstone of the organization.
"It's awesome. I'm so excited for him," Harper said. "It's a great thing for the organization. ... To keep him, it's just great to have him around. I'm very excited."
The extension means that Zimmerman will likely stay with the Nationals for the rest of his playing career. For right-hander Stephen Strasburg, Zimmerman's extension reminded him that his college coach at San Diego State -- Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn -- played his entire 20-year Major League career with the Padres.
"It's great to see another guy be with one team his whole career," Strasburg said. "I think all the work that Zimmerman has put in through the bad times -- now hopefully, it's going to be the good times. He is a National. He obviously wanted to be a National his whole career. I'm just happy for him."
Zimmerman's teammates were not the only ones who were happy for him. Childhood friend and Mets third baseman David Wright knew that Zimmerman wanted to continue to play near his home in Virginia.
"Sometimes we work out together, hang out together. He loves it there, and that's kind of become our hometown team," Wright said. "I know that's where he wanted to be and he got something worked out.
"It seems like a good deal for both Ryan and the organization. The biggest thing is, he's a good friend of mine and I know exactly what he wants. He got what he wants, and that's long term in Washington."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Anthony DiComo contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.