The last we heard from Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez on the progress of Jon Lester, the 37-year-old left-hander was continuing to build his arm up after surgery to remove one of four parathyroid glands this spring and a stint on the COVID-IL set back his preparation for what will be his 16th big league campaign.
“He threw,” Martinez said before Wednesday matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We’re building him up. We have to make a decision what we want to do next. I mean, I talked to him today and he’s going to go ahead and throw a light bullpen and we’ll see where he’s at from there. We want to make sure that he’s fully ready.
“With that being said, who knows, he might pitch this weekend for us or he might get another start. We’ll determine that probably today after the game or tomorrow.”
Lester had been throwing at the club’s Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but the Nationals wanted to make sure he was properly built up before running him out there for his 2021 debut.
“I just want to make sure that he’s completely healthy,” Martinez said. “That’s all it is as of right now. He threw six innings, but he’s only done it once. We want to make sure that he rebounds right now fully.”
The plan was to check in with the southpaw again after the light bullpen and see if he was set to start in the majors.
“He wants to throw 20-30 pitches and work on some things with his mechanics,” Martinez explained.
“When I talk to [GM Mike Rizzo] today we’ll figure out what’s going to transpire in the next couple days, but I want to sit down with him, I want to sit down with [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey and just talk about the next few days. We got a day off tomorrow, we’ve got another day off on Monday, so we just want to talk about some different scenarios.”
Apparently, Lester passed whatever tests they wanted to see him pass, because early this afternoon the Nationals announced he has been reinstated and will start tonight in D.C. in the series opener with the Miami Marlins.
NOTE: In order to make room on the roster, the Nationals optioned right-hander Steven Fuentes and transferred left-handed pitcher Luis Avilán to the 60-day Injured List.