Hairston: Nats need Zimmerman

The Nationals’ offense has been missing in action all season. Entering Sunday’s game against the D-backs, Washington has a .231 batting average, which ranks 28th in the Major Leagues and is the No. 1 reason its in fifth place, nine games behind the Phillies in the National League East.

Infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. doesn’t have to think twice as to why the Nationals haven’t been able to hit on a consistent basis. They miss third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who has not played in a Major League game since April 9 because of an abdominal strain.

The Nationals are hoping Zimmerman can be activated from the disabled list during the next homestand, which starts June 14th against the Cardinals at Nationals Park.

With Zimmerman back, it would mean Jayson Werth would have protection in the lineup. Manager Jim Riggleman plans to hit Werth second and Zimmerman third.

“When you are missing your best player, that can kind of hurt you a little bit,’ Hairston said. “[Zimmerman] definitely takes the pressure off the hitters. Having that big guy in the lineup really makes a difference. … At the same time, we don’t have him. We just have to find a way to keep scrapping.”

Once Zimmerman returns to the lineup, Hairston will be back on the bench. Hairston has been the primary third baseman during Zimmerman’s absence.

It remains to be seen if Hairston returns to the outfield. Hairston originally signed with the Nationals to platoon with Rick Ankiel in center field.

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