Joel Sherman discusses various news around the league

WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is close to a rehab assignment. He could start as early as this weekend, according to a baseball source. It's not known which Minor League affiliate he would play for.

Once he starts, Zimmerman most likely will be a designated hitter for a couple of games. After that, he could play third base, first base or left field. Zimmerman is going to play all three positions once he returns to the big league level, the source confirmed.

During the off-day Thursday, Zimmerman worked out at third base without any problems. Two days before that he was working out at first base. Two weeks ago, Zimmerman was working out in left field.

"I think the most important thing is getting back into the lineup and swinging the bat and hopefully helping us score some runs," Zimmerman told the local media Wednesday. "I feel comfortable whatever makes sense for me to help the team win. I'm not sure if I could pitch or catch, but I feel like I could play pretty much anywhere else on the baseball field and not look out of place. I take pride in being a pretty good athlete."

Zimmermann missed almost two months of action because of a fractured right thumb he injured against the Braves on April 12.

Gio nearing rehab stint after latest session

Gonzalez heads to DL with shoulder inflammation

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park during Thursday's off-day, according to a baseball source, and it went off without a hitch.

Gonzalez's next move will be to have a simulated game Sunday and then start a rehab assignment five days later. It's not known which Minor League affiliate he'll start for.

The Nationals placed Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list on May 18 because of left shoulder inflammation. Gonzalez has been dealing with shoulder problems dating back to his April 23 start against the Angels, but he said it was nothing to be concerned about.

However, Gonzalez had one of his roughest starts on May 17 in a 5-2 loss against the Mets, allowing five runs in three innings. After the game, he declined to discuss his shoulder problems, saying he had to gut it out on the mound. Gonzalez was placed on the DL the next day.