In a pregame press conference this afternoon, Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams confirmed previous reports that said 30-year-old starter Doug Fister will go on the DL with a right lat strain after suffering the injury during a start in a Minor League game on Thursday.
An MRI on Friday revealed what was described as a "minor" strain.
Fister, acquired from the Detroit Tigers this winter, was working his way back from elbow inflammation which slowed his preparation this spring. He got through just one inning in the latest outing, throwing 15 pitches before he left the game.
"Doug is going to go on the DL of course," Williams said today. "And he's going to be shut down from throwing for about five days, see where he's at and then start the process of getting him back. That's the perfect plan, so we'll see how it goes over the next few and then get him going back on his program and get built back up a little bit."
Even if it all goes as planned, Fister will miss a few weeks.
"It's three weeks," Williams said. "It's 30 days. It depends on what we can do to get him back to full strength so when he steps on the mound for us he's ready to go."
Fister was scheduled to throw around 4-5 innings and 60-65 pitches in what was his second outing after the elbow inflammation which followed his first Grapefruit League start with the Nationals.
Just like every other starter in Spring Training, he'll have to build his arm strength back up if he starts throwing again after the five-day rest period. He won't necessarily have to go all the way back to the start.
"He'll do all the flat ground stuff," Williams said. "Start at 60 [feet] go to 90, go to 120, all the things that they do during the spring."
"He's built some arm strength though," the Nats' skipper continued. "And the fact that he has that arm strength now, it's not like he's going to be shut down for a month. He'll look at five days and get back at it. So we'll see where that's at and we can monitor from there and make those decisions as we go."
Nationals' Pitching Coach Steve McCatty was monitoring Fister closely on Thursday and according to a report in the Washington Post, made the decision to stop the start along with the right-hander
Williams went into a little more detail this afternoon.
"He felt it a little bit warming up," Williams explained, "He made a play in the infield, he felt it on that. It's more precaution than anything."
Williams didn't, however, think it was a case of the right-hander over-compensating for the elbow issue and causing another injury.
"I don't think it had anything to do with the elbow," he said. "The elbow has been fine thus far, since he first had the inflammation. So it's just one of those things."
The lat, Williams said, is, "... a decelerating muscle, it's used to stop your arm. There's all kinds of little muscles in there too. You classify it as a lat strain because that's the general area where it's at."
With Fister out of the rotation for now, the Nats' skipper explained how his starters will line up in the first week of the season.
Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark, candidates for the fifth rotation spot if Fister were available, will both make the rotation. Jordan, who was scheduled to pitch in the final exhibition game, will most likely not pitch according to Williams, who said they have to work toward lining him up and getting him ready for his first start.
Stephen Strasburg will start the season opener on Monday in New York, followed by Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in the second and third games of the year, respectively, and then Tanner Roark will take the mound in the home opener next Friday night.
"Tanner will go four, he'll go Opening Day here," Williams said. "We'll follow him with Stephen. Taylor [Jordan] will pitch, I believe it's on the sixth."