Washington Nationals superstar Ryan Zimmerman beat Peyton Manning to the punch -- filing a lawsuit against the Al Jazeera network for its story claiming he used performance enhancing drugs.
The Nats' first baseman was named in the same story that accused Manning of using HGH. In his lawsuit, Zimmerman says where he's concerned ... Al Jazeera's report is "categorically untrue." He goes on to deny taking HGH or any other PED banned by Major League Baseball.
Zimm's suit is likely the first of several to come. Charles David Sly, Al Jazeera's source for the HGH allegations ... has since recanted. As TMZ Sports already reported ... Manning's camp is also considering taking legal action. However, we're told IF he does it won't happen until after the NFL season.
In the docs, Zimmerman takes a huge shot at Al Jazeera as an organization ... saying it's "plagued with low ratings" and many of its execs are jumping ship.
He's going after the network and the lead reporter for damages in "the millions" to his reputation and future sponsorship opportunities.
3:55 PM PT -- Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has also filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera.