On his way from the field to the field during batting practice Tuesday Ryan Zimmerman stopped to field a few balls at first. It wasn’t any kind of practice; he was just hanging out with Adam LaRoche.

A few minutes earlier Manager Davey Johnson had been discussing the possibility of Zimmerman actually one day moving from third base to first. Zimmerman’s throwing after offseason surgery has of course been an issue this season. Johnson still believes Zimmerman will rediscover his old form but he didn’t rule out the idea of Zimmerman shifting across the diamond.

“I knew it was going to take until June but obviously it’s taken longer” Johnson said. “It’s more about him – if you see him throw early he throws deeper and throws the ball on line. But I don’t know if it’s physical or mental. Because I see him throw pretty good and in the game he’ll want to get a lot of air under it. If that doesn’t get better then obviously it’s not a good spot for him to be in. But at one time he had a cannon. And we’re all waiting for him to come back and get over it.

“I still think it’s more mental not just trusting it and cutting loose. I see him getting his work in and he throws it pretty good. And then you see him having to play real shallow almost cheat in. It’s not all together there yet is what I’m saying.”

Zimmerman has made 17 errors including a league-high 12 throwing errors. For years Zimmerman a Gold Glove winner in 2009 ranked as one of the best third baseman in baseball. This season stunningly he has a -14.2 UZR the catch-all defensive metric used by FanGraphs.com. That ranks 24th – dead last – among qualified third basemen.

One reason is that Zimmerman’s range has suffered. Zimmerman has played shallower the past two years than earlier in his career about two steps behind third base Johnson said. Johnson believes Zimmerman has been cheating in to give himself a slightly shorter throw to first.

Zimmerman’s throwing has seen improvement this year but it remains inconsistent as he continues to strengthen his arm in the wake of November’s shoulder surgery. Is it possible Johnson was asked that this is simply the player Zimmerman has become?

“I don’t know” Johnson said. “I thought it would all come together about mid-June. He works hard at it. I think when you have that problem if you start thinking it through mentally it’s like where’s my arm supposed to go? Well it just goes there naturally. And you just fire it. I think he’ll get it. But it’s been longer than I thought.”