PHILADEPHIA -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann made his 19th start in Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Phillies, his last of the first half. He was solid, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and striking out six batters. However, Zimmermann continued to have problems with his neck and is considering not going to the All-Star Game. If that happens, it will mark the second consecutive Midsummer Classic in which a Nationals player has dropped out, after shortstop Ian Desmond gave up his spot last year because of an oblique injury.
"[The neck] is a little tight. I've been dealing with that for a while now. But I got it loosened up. It's good enough out there to go and pitch," Zimmermann said. "It's a possibility [that I might drop out of the All-Star Game]. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. We'll see how the next few days go and go from there."
Zimmermann is not sure why he is having problems with his neck, but he continues to have treatment in hopes that the pain will go away.
"I would rather be healthy for the second half than pitch [in the All-Star Game]," Zimmermann said. "I would like to pitch in it. But I'm not going to go out there and pitch an inning, and I have to battle [with the injury] the whole second half."
Desmond's Final Vote campaign falls short
PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond finished fourth in the National League All-Star Final Vote, behind Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Giants outfielder Hunter Pence. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez finished fifth.
Freeman received 19.7 million votes, a new all-time Final Vote record. Freeman becomes the second Braves player to win the online balloting.
"With the guys on the list, you really can't go wrong," Desmond said. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be selected for that Final Vote. It's all just a blessing to come as far as I've come in a short amount of time, it's awesome. I'm very appreciative of the fans. ... There is no way I could thank them except keep playing hard."
Manager Davey Johnson didn't mince words on how he felt about Desmond not winning the vote.
Desmond, 27, is clearly the best player on the Nationals this year. Besides playing outstanding defense, he leads Washington in home runs and RBIs. It helped that he had a hot month of June, during which he drove in 28 runs.
Desmond has missed one game this season, and Johnson wouldn't mind seeing Desmond rest during the All-Star break.
"I'm happy about that, because I'm not resting him [until the All-Star break]," Johnson said. "I think he has been in all but one game, and I think about resting him, and then I say, 'I can't afford to do that.' So I'm glad he is going to get some time off."
Desmond said it's a win-win situation if he is off during the All-Star Break.
"It would be nice for myself and for my team if I could go home and get some rest," Desmond said. "I want to come back for the second half strong."
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.