4/10/2014 1:54 A.M. ET
Harper snaps out of slump with big game
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Left fielder Bryce Harper hit seventh in the lineup during the Nationals' 10-7 victory over the Marlins on Wednesday night and broke out of his 4-for-26 slump.
In the fourth inning, Harper battled left-hander Brad Hand for 10 pitches before he hit a three-run homer that landed in the upper deck. The umpires initially ruled it a homer, but checked on the replay to be sure. They determined that the call should stand.
Two innings later, Harper singled to left field, but was stranded at third base. He ended up going 2-for-4 in the game.
"I'm more impressed with [the at-bat after the home run]," manager Matt Williams said. "He took the ball the other way. He is going to hit home runs, we know that. His consistency in which he takes the ball the other way is key for him. So, it was a good night for him."
Zim adjusts throwing motion, returns to hot corner
WASHINGTON -- Around 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Ryan Zimmerman took practice throws at third base and didn't report any pain in his right shoulder. After the session, Nationals manager Matt Williams put Zimmerman in the starting lineup against the Marlins.
During the session, Zimmerman was side arming every throw to first and second base.
"It's a different throw. It's a work in progress," Zimmerman said. "There is no pain. You have to keep working and do everything you can to make it work."
Adam LaRoche, who caught most of Zimmerman's throws during the session, was impressed by what he saw from across the diamond. In fact, LaRoche said Zimmerman's throws were stronger and had a lot more life.
"He looked great. He said he felt great," LaRoche said."I can't speak for Zim, but anything he could do to get that pain out of his shoulder is what he is searching for."
It appears Zimmerman may have problems throwing out speedsters. He needs to take at least three steps to make every throw to first base, but Zimmerman is not concerned.
"We'll adjust accordingly," Zimmerman said. "Obviously, if there is a speed guy up, I will not be playing as deep as I normally play. You would have to watch out for the bunt and things like that. So we adjust as we go."
Zimmerman may also have problems when he backhands the ball like the one on Saturday night against the Braves. Andrelton Simmons hit what looked like a routine ground ball to Zimmerman, whose high throw to first pulled LaRoche off the bag, with the ball tipping off the first baseman's glove and bouncing into the stands, allowing Justin Upton to score. Zimmerman was taken out of the game and didn't start the next two games.
However, Williams was satisfied that Zimmerman could play Wednesday.
"He reported no pain. We waited until we got [done with the session] before we posted the lineup. He feels fine. He is going to be in there tonight," Williams said.
It has been a challenging 2 1/2 years for Zimmerman. Starting in 2012, he had cortisone shots in the shoulder before undergoing surgery after the season. During the 2013 season, Zimmerman had issues recovering from the surgery. He had a tough time throwing to first until September.
Zimmerman had shoulder soreness during Spring Training, but the team didn't show any concerns until Saturday. For the rest of the season, Zimmerman will see time as a designated hitter when the Nationals play in American League cities and he will sometimes spell LaRoche at first base. In fact, Zimmerman was seen working out at first base before Wednesday's game against the Marlins.
According to a baseball source, Zimmerman will likely see most of his playing time at first base starting in 2015. That would mean Anthony Rendon would move back to third base.
"I don't know if I really thought about [playing first base] yet," Zimmerman said when asked about a permanent move to first. "Obviously, I would love to play third base. I feel like I've been a good third baseman. We have to assess what's going on and see what we do."
In Wednesday's 10-7 victory, Zimmerman's biggest test came in the fifth inning. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a ball that Zimmerman back handed, but he was unable to get Hechavarria on the throw.
While he couldn't get Hechavarria, Zimmerman was able to make routine plays.
• After throwing 120 feet on flat ground, right-hander Doug Fister will pitch to a catcher on flat ground in the next few days. After that, he hopes to throw on the mound. Fister started the season on the disabled list because of a lat strain. He also had elbow inflammation that forced him to miss most of Spring Training.
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.