Zimmerman went 1 for 3 with a RBI single in his spring training debut as the Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6.
The third baseman had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Oct. 25. An All-Star in 2009, Zimmerman hit .282 with 25 homers and 95 RBIs for the NL East champions last season despite the injured shoulder, which needed cortisone shots in June and September.
He was the designated hitter against the Cardinals rather than playing his usual third base and likely will not play in the field for several more weeks.
"He just needs the at-bats," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I'm not concerned about him getting on the field at all. We can DH him until about the 18th. ... I'd rather take that real slow."
Washington starter Ross Detwiler gave up one run and four hits in two scoreless innings and struck out four in his last appearance before joining the U.S. for the World Baseball Classic.
Starting pitcher Jamie Garcia threw three innings and gave up two runs on five hits while striking out four.
It was the second start of spring training for Garcia, who said he felt good and reported no problems with his left shoulder, which he rehabbed during the offseason after being sidelined in last year's playoff run due to a strained rotator cuff and inflammation.
"I'm at a point right now, where I'm just going to go out there and compete," Garcia said. "I've got that positive mentality, just like I did when I came to camp."
The Nationals did not make a lot of hard contact against Garcia, though it was hard to tell whether it was because of the left-hander's movement or the wind.
"We'll see next time when there's no wind," Garcia said. "Hopefully, it was a little of both."
Zimmerman struck out in his first at-bat against Garcia, then blooped a single into right field to drive in Jayson Werth in the third inning. Werth, Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa all had two hits for Washington.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos also made his first spring appearance and went 1 for 2 with a ninth-inning double Ramos tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee last May 12.
While Zimmerman and Ramos were making their first appearances, Detwiler was making second and last start before the WBC.
"I think I threw more offspeed pitches in two innings today than I did all year last year," Detwiler said.
NOTES: The Nationals reassigned LHP Bill Bray, LHP Will Ohman, RHP Tanner Roark and LHP Brandon Mann to the minor league camp. ... Given temperatures in the 40s, the Nationals hit in the batting cages pregame. Johnson said players sent Adam LaRoche's 11-year-old son, Drake, into his office to make the request. ... Ramos is scheduled to catch three innings Tuesday. ... RHP Henry Rodriguez is scheduled to throw batting practice Tuesday and make his spring training debut Friday against St. Louis ... RHP Rafael Soriano is set to make his exhibition debut Tuesday ... The Cardinals said SS Rafael Furcal has been told to stop baseball activity after a major setback in his rehabilitation from a torn ligament in his right elbow. "He's just not feeling good, kind of went in a bad direction," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We don't know the severity of it, but it wasn't good news." There will be additional medical tests. ... With Furcal out indefinitely, Kozma and Ronny Cedeno are the likely candidates to take over at shortstop unless there is a trade. ... C.J. McElroy had two hits and drove in two runs for St. Louis ... Robinson has seven RBIs.