CHC@WSH: Soriano notches the save in the 9th inning

PHILADELPHIA -- With Jordan Zimmermann not playing in the All-Star Game, the Nationals will not have any representatives playing in Minnesota.

Closer Rafael Soriano, who was hoping Zimmermann's replacement would come from within the clubhouse, had said that if he were invited, he would turn it down to visit his mother in the Dominican Republic. He can't wait to have her home cooking, which includes goat, chicken and soup.

"I'll go home [on Sunday] to see my mom. I'll spend a couple of days with her, throw a bullpen over there, come back and be ready for the second half of the season," Soriano said.

Soriano said he should have been considered when the National League team was put together last Sunday. After all, he is having one of the best seasons of his 13-year big league career. Entering Saturday's action, Soriano had a 1.00 ERA and 21 saves.

However, Soriano had hoped that some other members of the Nationals would go to the All-Star Game in Zimmermann's place. Soriano said Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Anthony Rendon in particular should be considered. But it was not to be, as Major League Baseball on Saturday announced that Zimmermann would be replaced by Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

Zimmermann has biceps strain; All-Star spot filled

WSH@PHI: Zimmermann exits game with apparent injury

PHILADELPHIA -- Jordan Zimmermann had an MRI exam on his right arm on Saturday morning, and the results revealed a biceps strain. The test did not show anything wrong with Zimmermann's elbow or shoulder.

For now, Zimmerman will not go on the disabled list. He will be re-examined once he returns from the All-Star break on Thursday; the team is planning a practice that evening at Nationals Park.

"Given his history, yeah, that's a big relief for us," manager Matt Williams said. "The way he reacted last night, we didn't think there was an issue with the elbow or the shoulder. But we had to make sure.

"I think with the All-Star break, we can look at how he comes out of that and see. If in fact we've got to do something like [put him on the DL] after the break, we can do that. We can backdate it. But he was feeling pretty good today. So he'll go on his normal throwing program and see how he feels. And then once we determine that, we can determine whether it's something we need to look at after the break or not."

Zimmermann will not attend the All-Star Game. Instead, he will go home to Auburndale, Wis., and rest the arm during the break.

"I didn't think it was anything … serious," Zimmermann said. "The MRI came back, and it looked pretty good. A little inflammation. I'm going to give it some rest for a few days, go home, come back and start throwing on Thursday again."

Zimmermann left Friday night's game against the Phillies in the bottom of the fourth inning with a biceps cramp. It marks the second straight year in which Zimmermann was named to the All-Star team but was then sidelined with an injury.

Williams texted Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who will manage the National League All-Star team, about the injury but did not discuss who should replace Zimmermann. By Saturday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez would do so. Williams did not seem to have a problem with the decision.

"He is still our representative. There is nothing you can do about guys being injured or not being able to participate," Williams said before Saturday night's 5-3 victory against the Phillies. "We had a couple of guys in the mix. Anthony [Rendon] was in there for a while [with the All-Star Final Vote]. Jordan is our representative. If all things were equal, he would be our only guy anyway.

"Disappointed? No. We have a couple of games to win [against the Phillies]. Let's see if we can do that until we get to the All-Star break."

Zimmermann is the ace of the Nationals pitching staff, going 6-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 19 starts. His teammates were relieved that the biceps injury was not serious.

"It's nice to have him back there with the break built in and not worry about the DL," Ryan Zimmerman said. "He is going to be a big part of us during the second half. Hopefully, when we get back from the All-Star break, everything will be good."

But the Nationals need more than Zimmermann to win the tight battle with the Braves in National League East, fellow rotation member Stephen Strasburg said.

"It's going to take everybody, not just the pitchers, but every guy on the 25-man roster to get this done," Strasburg said. "Recharge your batteries after tomorrow and [get] ready to play some fun baseball in the second half."

Worth noting

• After injuring his right thumb on Thursday against the Orioles, Ian Desmond was back in the lineup Saturday against the Phillies.

• Manager Matt Williams sat Bryce Harper in favor of Scott Hairston, who has a career .395 batting average against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.