Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore got the first report on Washington Nationals' right-hander Doug Fister's bullpen session this morning from the man who was behind the plate catching for the 30-year-old starter who has been out of live action since March 2nd when he was diagnosed with inflammation in his right elbow. Though there were reports yesterday that Fister experienced tightness in his elbow after Thursday's flat ground throwing session, Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos told the WaPost reporter that things went well today:
Doug Fister got through his bullpen session today. Ramos, who caught him, said it went well. Mostly fastballs, a few curves and changes.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) March 14, 2014
Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked with reporters about Fister this morning in a pregame interview from Lakeland, Florida's Joker Marchant Stadium where the Nats take on the Detroit Tigers this afternoon in Grapefruit League action.
Williams said at the time he was waiting on word from pitching coach Steve McCatty as to how Fister's bullpen session went.
"I haven't seen 'Cat' yet," Williams said. "He's on his way here, so we'll have more when he gets here."
Williams told reporters that with what the Nationals saw in the MRI on Fister's elbow and the progress he has made since starting to throw again as the inflammation has gone down, it's just a matter of how far the time off has set the starter back?
"All the pictures came back good," the first-year manager explained, "and him going through the process right now is part of the process. But I'm not concerned about it. I think he'll be just fine. The question is, given the time off, how far can we build him? That's the only question at this point. He'll go through that progression and we'll see where he's at."
Asked if he thought Fister might pressing and champing at the bit to get back on the mound in his first Spring Training with Washington following this winter's trade that brought him from Detroit, Williams said he was sure Fister wanted to get back on the mound as soon as possible.
"Anybody would be," Williams said. "He's ready to go. 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."
"Again, all indications are that everything is good," Williams reiterated. "Just the soreness and the inflammation, we need to get out of there. But, you know, you take those pictures and they show you that there is no damage. It's just inflammation at this point and we've got to take care of it."
When Steve McCatty arrived at Joker Marchant Stadium, he confirmed to reporters including the Washington Post's James Wagner that things went well in Fister's bullpen session:
Pitching coach Steve McCatty stayed back to watch Fister's bullpen and is now here in Lakeland. "Everything went good."— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) March 14, 2014
Fister's one start for the Nationals this spring came on March 2nd against the Miami Marlins. He gave up two hits, a walk and one earned run in two innings of work against the Nationals' NL East rivals.
Fister has thrown several flat ground sessions since then, but today was his first bullpen session as he works his way back to live action in Grapefruit League games. Acquired this winter in a 3-for-1 deal with the Tigers, Fister finished his fifth major league season in 2013 at +4.6 fWAR, with a (14-9) record, a 3.67 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 44 walks (1.90 BB/9) and 159 Ks (6.86 K/9) in 33 games, 32 starts and 208 2/3 IP.