Zimmerman wins Gold Glove for Nationals
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – That travel team back in Virginia a decade ago must have played great defense on the left side of the infield.
Ryan Zimmerman succeeded boyhood friend David Wright as the National League’s Gold Glove third baseman on Wednesday. In high school, when Zimmerman was a shortstop, the two played together on a youth team.
“Hopefully if we’re lucky enough to continue doing what we’re doing, this will be a yearly thing,” Zimmerman said. “It’s fun for us.”
A college teammate from the University of Virginia, Arizona’s Mark Reynolds, is competing with Zimmerman for a Silver Slugger award, to be announced Thursday.
“We all push each other to work harder,” said Zimmerman, who had 33 homers and 106 RBIs.
Zimmerman led major league third basemen with 325 assists and became only the second Washington player to win the award, joining catcher Earl Battey of the original Senators in 1960. He also became the second infielder to win a Gold Glove from a team with the worst fielding percentage in the majors, following Texas shortstop Michael Young last year.
The Nationals led the major leagues with 143 errors.
“Our team as a whole needs to realize that if we want to win we’ve got to play defense,” Zimmerman said. “We need to take more responsibility on the defensive side of the ball and realize that if we want to start winning that, you know, that’s just as much a part of winning as hitting and scoring runs.”
Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins earned his third consecutive Gold Glove and Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino won for the second straight time.
“Defense is a very important part of my game, and it truly is an honor to be recognized as one of the best defensive players in the league,” Rollins said in a statement.
Of course, the Gold Gloves were far more rewarding last year, when the Phillies won the World Series for the first time since 1980. Philadelphia failed in its attempt to repeat, losing to the New York Yankees in six games last week.
“I take a lot of pride in fielding my position,” Victorino, nicknamed the Flyin’ Hawaiian for his speed, said in a statement.
Rollins became the Phillies fifth three-time winner, joining Mike Schmidt (10), Garry Maddox (eight), Manny Trillo and Scott Rolen (three each).
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez also were second-time winners announced Wednesday.
“I don’t think I made as many plays as I made the year before. That’s because teams were more reluctant to bunt my way,” Gonzalez said. “You need a couple of years of doing things over and over before coaches say there’s a guy I could vote for.”
Adam Wainwright became the first Cardinals pitcher to win since Joaquin Andujar in 1984 and succeeded Greg Maddux, who won his record 18th Gold Glove last year. Wainwright also is a favorite for the NL Cy Young Award after going 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA.
“I would have thought if there was one award that I would never win, or never have a chance to win, that would be a Gold Glove Award,” Wainwright said. “There’s probably a ton of guys that are better fielders than me.”
Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson overcame a broken left wrist sustained in August 2008 and won for the fourth time, taking over from Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips even though Hudson lost playing time by September to teammate Ronnie Belliard. Hudson didn’t make a single postseason start for Los Angeles, then became a free agent.
“I had a good season,” he said. “I would be interested in coming back.”
Houston outfielder Michael Bourn and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp also were first-time winners – and gave the NL three center fielders in the Gold Glove outfield.
Kemp had 14 assists, up from two in 2007.
“Now you’re supposed to win a Gold Glove every year,” he said.
Bourn concentrated on fielding during winter ball.
“When I went to the Dominican, I didn’t just try to work on my offense. I tried to work on my defense as well,” he said. “It helps me a little bit more over there because the ground’s a little bit rough and you have harder bounces and so you’ve got to get used to playing those tough bounces. When it comes to a regular field it made it seem a little easier for me.”
Wright and his New York Mets teammate, center fielder Carlos Beltran, were dropped from the Gold Glove team. Beltran was sidelined for much of the season. Outfielder Nate McLouth, traded from Pittsburgh to Atlanta in June, also missed out.
Gonzalez, Molina, Rollins and Wainwright each earned $50,000 bonuses, and the price of Gonzalez’s 2011 club option increased by $100,000 to $5.7 million. Bourn and Victorino each earned $25,000 bonuses. Hudson and Kemp didn’t have bonus provisions in their contracts.
Rawlings began presenting Gold Gloves in 1957. Managers and coaches voted on players in their own leagues before the regular season ended but couldn’t select members of their own teams.
American League winners were announced Tuesday.
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg contributed to this report.