Doug Fister made his first Grapefruit League start in a Washington Nationals uniform on March 2nd, holding the Miami Marlins to two hits, a walk and one earned run in two innings of work in which he struck out two batters. After that outing, however, the 6'8'' right-hander felt tightness in his right elbow. A subsequent MRI revealed inflammation. At that point, Fister was temporarily shut down.
"After his start he started feeling a little bit of discomfort," Williams told reporters earlier this month.
"A little tight in there," the Nats' skipper explained. "That's why we got the MRI, just to take a look and reports are good, but we're just going to err on the side of caution and make sure he's good."
The good news, Williams said, was that the MRI revealed no structural damage.
"No structural issues," he said. "None of that. So it's inflammation and we've just got to get it out. It's good news, but we have to shut him down for a few days. That's okay."
Once he started throwing again, Fister went through the same progression each pitcher has as they've built up arm strength this spring, starting with flat ground throwing sessions and then going to bullpen sessions and live action in a minor league game this past week.
Williams said that though Fister was eager to get back on the mound in competitive action, the Nationals were taking a cautious approach.
"He's ready to go," the manager said. "But, again, we want to make sure that we are taking care of him for the long-term as opposed to his first start. So, we have to make sure that we progress slowly and make sure that we have him for a full season and not rush him too quickly and lose him."
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The plan now is to get two starts in before the regular season starts and see where the right-hander is at after that.
"I think it's important for us to make sure that we get him to a point where we feel comfortable that he could start a major league game," Williams told reporters this week. "If you look at it right now, he's at two innings, 30 pitches. The next time we go out he'll be somewhere in the 45-[pitch] range. The time after that somewhere in the 60-[pitch] range."
Fister is scheduled to face the Marlins again this afternoon in a 1:05 pm EDT game in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium.
• Here's the lineup for the Nationals this afternoon in the Nats' spring home:
#Nats lineup: Span CF, Desmond SS, Werth RF, Zimmerman 3B, Harper LF, Ramos C, LaRoche 1B, Espinosa 2B, Fister P— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 22, 2014
• Note: Anthony Rendon is reportedly dealing with a chest cold, so try not to read too much into the fact that he's sitting today with Danny Espinosa pencilled in at second in what looks like the Nationals' Opening Day lineup. Williams did, however, say yesterday that the battle for the starting spot at second has not been decided yet...
• Marlins' Lineup:
#MarlinsST lineup vs. Nats: Marisnick LF, Solano 2B, Baker 1B, Ozuna CF, Johnson RF, Wigginton 3B, Mathis C, Diaz SS, Alvarez P— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) March 22, 2014
• Game time: 1:05 pm EDT. This afternoon's game is available to listen to on 106.7 The Fan and WFED 1500 AM in D.C. and via MLB.com's Gameday audio.
Who's listening to the Nationals?