NEW YORK -- There was a time when people would ask manager Davey Johnson if he was going to keep Ryan Zimmerman slotted into the three-hole.
That time is no more.
Zimmerman has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder a month ago, bringing the Nationals' surging offense along with him.
Entering the series finale against the Mets on Wednesday, the third baseman was batting. 393 (third in the National League) with 11 doubles (tied for third), 11 homers (second), 31 RBIs (first), 26 runs (tied for first) and a 1.233 OPS (second) in 27 games.
"This is why I'm hitting him third," Johnson said. "He's just a great hitter. He had some physical problems, but he's feeling pretty good now, and he's just playing like he normally plays."
After the Nationals' 3-1 win over the Orioles on June 23, Zimmerman's slash line was .218/.285/.305. Since receiving the cortisone shot the next day, it's risen to .277/.340/.467.
Washington's offense has taken a similar leap. The club entered its June 25 series in Colorado averaging 3.8 runs per game, with a .238 team batting average. Entering Wednesday the team has averaged 5.6 runs per game in the 26 games since and has hit .306.
In 10 games against the Mets this year, Zimmerman is hitting .333 with two homers, four doubles, 12 runs and eight RBIs.
"We've played them quite a bit," Zimmerman said, "but it's just like anyone in the division. We play them so much over the course of the year and years past that you know what they have. It's just a matter of them executing their pitch to get you out or you executing your plan for getting what you want."
Johnson not concerned about NL East roster moves
NEW YORK -- As chips have continued to fall around the National League East, manager Davey Johnson remains most concerned with the club in his own dugout, not the others.
The Phillies signed pitcher Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 million extension on Wednesday, and the Marlins shipped infielder Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers in a deal that could have implications in the NL East. The Braves were also reportedly close to acquiring pitcher Ryan Dempster from the Cubs.
"I never worry about what other ballclubs are doing other than being interested in their personnel," Johnson said. "The only thing I'm concerned about is [that] we're going to play Miami in seven or eight days, and I wonder who their personnel's going to be."
Entering Wednesday's slate of games, the Marlins and Phillies sat in fourth and fifth place in the division, 12 1/2 and 14 games behind the Nationals, respectively.
The Nationals will welcome the Marlins to Nationals Park from Aug. 3-5 to play four games in three days. The visitors will feature a new look after dealing Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and Minor League pitcher Scott McGough.
"I've seen it happen over the years," Johnson said. "It doesn't concern me, to be honest with you. Any time you make a move, you give up something. Maybe it might help you this year, but it might hurt you next year. I don't believe in doing things that just help you today and aren't going to help you tomorrow."
Despite progress, Werth's timetable remains the same
NEW YORK -- Even as Jayson Werth's rehab has moved ahead of schedule, there was still concern that his timing at the plate would be a larger issue as he works his way back from a broken left wrist.
Manager Davey Johnson said that Werth is still working out the kinks with three rehab appearances in the books.
"Progress is coming along good," Johnson said. "I know one thing -- he didn't feel any weakness in his left wrist."
Despite the fact that Werth has been healing quickly, the Nats have always planned to stay on the same timetable for his return, with their sights set on the first week in August.
Johnson said the decision is primarily up to Werth.
"He'll tell me. I know he's got it figured out," Johnson said. "It was his idea to move from Washington [with Class A Potomac] up to Syracuse, and he likes to take someone with him, so he took Chad Tracy."
Werth went 0-for-6 in games on Monday and Tuesday with Triple-A Syracuse, also seeing some time in center field.
"He's going to be a right-handed center fielder, and that's something I don't have," Johnson said. "He's real good anywhere I put him out there."
Tracy, rehabbing a groin injury, is expected to rejoin the club around the same time as Werth.