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Fister scratched with elbow inflammation

Mar 7, 2014, 11:05 AM EST

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Doug Fister was scratched from his scheduled start today with inflammation in his throwing elbow, an injury the Nationals say isn’t serious but is enough to keep the right-hander from facing the Astros at Space Coast Stadium.

Fister complained of discomfort in his elbow following his spring debut Sunday against the Marlins, manager Matt Williams told reporters in Viera. He underwent an MRI on Thursday, which revealed no structural damage, only the inflammation.

The Nationals plan to give Fister several days off, then see if he can make his next scheduled start in five days.

“We’re not concerned about it,” Williams told reporters. “He feels like if (it was the regular) season he could go, he could pitch. But we’re not gonna take any chances. We’ll push him a couple days, redo the pitching schedules and just make sure he feels good next time out.”

Tanner Roark, who already was supposed to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen today, will now start the game in Fister’s place.

The Nationals, obviously, are downplaying the severity of the situation, and perhaps there truly is no reason to sound the alarms. Pitchers experience minor discomfort all the time, and if Fister indeed returns to the mound in five days, this will be a mere blip in an otherwise strong camp for the newly acquired right-hander.

But this wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher has noted what appears to be nothing more than minor elbow discomfort and ultimately discovers a far more serious ailment. From my March 23, 2012 article on Drew Storen

An MRI taken of Drew Storen’s elbow revealed no ligament or tendon damage, only inflammation of the joint, and the right-hander expects to resume a throwing program and not miss significant time.

“It’s just rest for a couple more days, and then get it going and be good to go,” he said this morning inside the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium.

Storen wound up having surgery a couple weeks later to remove bone chips from his elbow and missed the season’s first 3 1/2 months.

This isn’t to suggest Fister is seriously injured, or that the Nationals are withholding info or misdiagnosing the problem. Not at all. Is it possible Fister’s ailment truly is a little inflammation and is no long-term concern for the Nationals? Absolutely.

But as we’ve learned over the years, it’s foolish to simply assume the best-case scenario without at least considering the possibility of a much worse-case scenario.

Until Fister is back on a mound pitching in a game, we won’t know for sure.

  1. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    uh oh!!!

  2. Hiram Hover - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Oh man – until Fister pitches again and gets the all clear, Rizzo is going to have nightmares about wandering the concourses of Tiger Stadium, looking for the “Returns” counter.

  3. Section 222 - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Even when he’s back on the mound pitching in a game we won’t know for sure.

    There’s no way for anyone, not the doctors, not Fister, and certainly not any of us watching from afar, to predict what’s going to happen here. Just have to keep our fingers crossed. And I’m certainly glad they are being cautious.

  4. David Proctor - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    No need to panic. Guys deal with soreness all the time.

    Of course, anytime it’s an elbow, I’m still concerned. Wait and see.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      I’m with you. They already did a MRI and there’s no structural damage. Pitchers have elbow inflammation often and the routine treatment is anti-inflammatory meds and many don’t skip a start and you never hear about it. Glad Fister spoke up.

      The fact they already did the MRI is a bonus.

      • Section 222 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:15 PM

        Not panicking, but the fact that they say there is no structural damage today doesn’t mean there isn’t a significant problem, and the possibility of missing significant playing time. See Storen, Drew, as Mark points out in the post.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Matt Williams gave his quote where he’s not concerned. Is he full of it?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:42 PM

        as far as I am concerned, they are all full of it until Fister pitches the whole season.

      • Section 222 - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        nationalsgo, if that’s a serious question, who knows? I sure don’t. But Davey always used to say he wasn’t concerned about this injury or that. It meant nothing. Zim just confirmed he lies about his health all the time. The lesson is not to assume everyone is lying but to not put much stock in what people say about these kinds of things.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 7, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        There were really bad arguments here a few years back when RZIM was accused of not being honest in ST on his abdominal injury. This almost confirms it.

  5. Hiram Hover - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Someone (sorry, forgot who) linked to fangraphs review of Nats prospects in the last thread, and another commenter asked about Robbie Ray.

    Ray comes in at #2 for Detroit, and they give his ceiling as a #3-4 starter, but a reliever if he can’t develop his secondary pitches more. Can’t be sure where Ray would rank for the Nats, but they seem to rate him a 60 overall (on 0-80 pt scouting scale), so he’d probably be 2 or 3 for the Nats.

    If you missed it:

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:33 AM

      Saw that earlier. Sometimes I feel Marc is too optimistic.

  6. karlkolchak - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    If it does turn out to be serious, can we start talking about the “curse” of the No. 4 spot in the Nats’ rotation?

  7. therealjohnc - Mar 7, 2014 at 11:57 AM


  8. Doc - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Hope this isn’t a ‘Jason Marquis’ deal, where the medical staff did their thing before signing, only to find out a few weeks later that he had to have a bone chips op!

    I mean is this a #4 starter here-we-go-again kind of thing???

  9. NatsLady - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    With regard to playing through pain and Dr. Jobe, you should read this article.

    • Sec3MySofa - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Posnanski, as always, one of the best writers going. Thanks, NL!

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM

      Wow. All those people thinking they knew what was wrong put Nolan through as much pain as the bone spur. Bunch of Rob Dibbles out there. If Sparky Anderson didn’t get down on his knees and apologize to Nolan, he should have been horse-whipped.

  10. natsfan1a - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    hmmm….taking some deep, calming breaths here…

  11. Sec3MySofa - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Take a few more, 1a, that seems to work for Bryce.

  12. natsfan1a - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    YesI just went deep in my wastebasket!

  13. JayB - Mar 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    Is there any example of Nats medical team being correct on these cases?

  14. Sonny G 10 - Mar 7, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    Man a bunch of nervous Nellies on here. Either Fister’s elbow injury is serious or its not. Nothing we can do about it. Not to worry, we have three pitchers trying out for the fifth slot, so we have two to spare anyway. We’ll be ok.

    • dgourds - Mar 8, 2014 at 4:24 AM

      Actually, I think it’s an appropriate amount of concern. Fister is the main upgrade from last year’s disastrous season. Having gone though too many misdiagnosed injuries before, we have reason to be very concerned. The fact that they already threw him in an MR I tells me this may be significant. You don’t do that for a little soreness. This could really suck. I’m holding my breath until he makes a couple of effective starts.

      • Sonny G 10 - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        Yeah. After reading Boswell’s column this morning, I realize I really do want to see him pitch. While I think we will be alright if he can’t go, I do recognize that he is an upgrade to our team and we stand a better chance if he is healthy. So I’m backtracking on my Caviler attitude.





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