While the Washington Nationals and New York Mets wrapped up the Grapefruit League schedule in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field, Nats' right-hander Doug Fister was throwing in a minor league game.
Fister, 30, was slowed by inflammation in his right elbow which limited him to just two starts this spring, and was working his way back with a goal of being ready for his first turn in the Nationals' rotation.
According to a post game report by Nationals' Manager Matt Williams, however, the starter the Nats acquired from the Detroit Tigers this winter suffered a setback unrelated to the original issue which held Fister back:
#Nats Manager Matt Williams said RHP Doug Fister left today's Minor League start with a right lat strain. He will be reevaluated in DC.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 27, 2014
Fister reportedly went just one inning and 15 pitches this afternoon, in a start in which he was expected to progress to around 60+. While Williams did categorize the issue today as a "setback," the Nats' skipper wouldn't officially say that the latest issue will result in both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan making the starting rotation at the start of the season. The two right-handers are going to pitch on the final exhibition game of the season, and a decision on which won the battle for the final spot was supposed to be announced after the game.
McCatty said Fister looked fine, but felt tightness. Fister to be evaluated Fri in DC. Even if it's minor, Fister's arm strength not there.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) March 27, 2014
As Williams explained to reporters, including MASNSports.com Dan Kolko, after today's game, the Nationals will wait to see how Fister feels when the team returns to the nation's capital:
"'They both earned the right to pitch. We'll have to see. We'll have to see how (Fister) feels tomorrow, what the doctor says, where we're at. But right now we just know he couldn't make it through his start today.'"
The Nats are now headed back to the nation's capital for Saturday's game and then they are off to New York for the season opener with the New York Mets on Monday.
The Nationals acquired Fister from Detroit this winter in a 3-for-1 deal with the Tigers after a +4.6 fWAR campaign in his fifth major league season. He was (14-9) with 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. He made two starts for the Nationals this spring before today's issues.
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