WASHINGTON -- It's been almost a week since Ryan Zimmerman returned as an outfielder and he has been nearly flawless in left, although he acknowledged Friday that he should have caught the ball hit by Reid Brignac during Wednesday's 9-2 victory over the Phillies.
In the fifth inning, Zimmerman misjudged a fly ball hit by Brignac and it went over Zimmerman's head for a double, scoring Domonic Brown.
"Everybody said it was an easy routine play. As I continue to play, that's a play I should make," Zimmerman said. "The more games I get out there, the more experience I get, the more comfortable I get, the more I'll trust my instincts. It will get easier and easier."
Zimmerman said he takes pride in his defense and he wants to be just as good in the outfield as he was at third base. He moved to the outfield to help the team win. He also acknowledged that Anthony Rendon is doing an outstanding job at third base.
"Anthony is a hell of a player. By the way he has played third, right now he is the best for our team," Zimmerman said. "I don't have any problems handling that. I'm an honest man. I see what everyone else sees. It is what it is.
"I'm very fortunate to be in the position that I'm in. I would not change one thing the way things have happened. I have a lot of years left in my career. It may be a different chapter, maybe. I don't know yet."
Asked if it has reached the point where Rendon is the future third baseman for the Nationals, Zimmerman said he hasn't thought about it, but he realizes that it has been difficult playing the position the last two-plus seasons because of shoulder problems.
"The days of me playing third base like I used to -- I don't want to say are behind me, but it's harder and harder to do that on a consistent basis. It's not because of a lack of effort or lack of work," Zimmerman said. "I don't like to make excuses, but things change over time. It kind of goes to the point earlier, I've been lucky enough to be here for a long time. … Sometimes, it wears on you a little bit. It wears on everyone differently.
"For me, my shoulder has taken a lot of banging, whether it's from diving, sliding or throwing. Whatever it is, nobody knows. The truth of the matter is, something is going on in there. We tried a lot of different things. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to kick it completely to the point where it feels completely healthy. It's just something I have to deal with."
So where is Zimmerman's future in baseball -- first base, left field or even third base? Zimmerman doesn't know.
There has been talk for weeks that Zimmerman's future is at first base. Then again, you have Adam LaRoche, who is having a great season at first base. The next handful of games in left field may determine Zimmerman's future.
"It's one of those things where we'll see what happens," Zimmerman said. "I think I can play first effectively. Depending on how I play left in the next month or so, I think that will be a case study to see how I do out there. I've only worked out there for about two weeks.
"If I were to play out there, I would have the whole offseason of work, Spring Training of work. Obviously, I feel I would be a little bit better after I get some experience."
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.