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Fister to pitch 3 innings vs. Marlins on Saturday

Mar 19, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

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VIERA, Fla. — Three weeks removed from his first (and only) appearance in a Grapefruit League this spring, Doug Fister is ready to face big-league hitters again.

Fister, out since March 2 with elbow inflammation, is scheduled start Saturday against the Marlins, Nationals manager Matt Williams said.

Fister will throw three innings or 45 pitches, according to Williams, another step in his attempt to ready himself for the start of the regular season.

Since noting elbow pain following his 2-inning spring debut against Miami, Fister has slowly worked his way back. He was shut down for about a week after an MRI revealed inflammation but no structural damage to the elbow. He played catch on flat ground three times, moving back from 60 feet to 120 feet. He threw a bullpen session. And on Monday he pitched two innings in a minor-league game at the complex down the street from Space Coast Stadium, his first game action since the injury cropped up.

The Nationals face a compressed window to get Fister ready to open the season on time. If all goes according to plan, he’ll pitch three innings on Saturday, then four innings on March 27 in the Nationals’ Grapefruit League finale against the Mets. He could potentially remain in Florida after the rest of the teams heads north to pitch in one more minor-league game before rejoining them and making his first turn in the rotation.

Williams would like the veteran right-hander to be as stretched out as possible by season’s start. Fister’s status could affect the Nationals’ final bullpen decision. If the club isn’t confident he’s ready to pitch six innings in his regular season debut, Williams might elect to keep another long reliever in his Opening Day bullpen (perhaps Tanner Roark, if he loses the competition for No. 5 starter to Taylor Jordan).

  1. natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    That’s the type of news I like to hear!

  2. tcostant - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    This is fine, as long as he can go 6 innings when the season opens, that is fine for early April.

    • tcostant - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Even 5 innings for the first start would be okay…

      • natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        Go 5 and give 2 to Detwiler and let Clip and Soriano finish it up!

  3. iconicwoodencap - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    So, best guess for who pitches on the home opener (April 4)? If Stras, Zimm, Gio pitch to the Mets, will it be Fister or do you think he’ll be skipped for Jordan/Roark?

    • David Proctor - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:32 PM

      Fister is currently lined up to pitch that Sunday. So it would be Jordan/Roark in the opener, Strasburg (presumably) Saturday and Fister Sunday.

      • Section 222 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:42 PM

        No pressure, Tanner/Taylor!

      • DaveB - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Could be … but it wouldn’t shock me to see MW hold back JZ or Gio for the home opener, and pitch Joark against the Mets.

  4. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    I still hope they don’t rush him back. Take advantage of the off days and let Fister make his Nats debut on April 12 or put him on the DL and let Roark and Jordan continue their competition for the No. 5 spot through the first few weeks of the season. Better safe than sorry.

  5. letswin3 - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    It’s just nice to know that there are solid options this year, even if Fister needs an additional 5 days to stretch out. In years past, a starting pitcher with a blister or a sore knee had many of us gasping for air and wringing our hands. Maybe starter depth is part of the description for that “window of opportunity” that we want so much to capitalize on. Having said that, I’m now knocking on wood too.

  6. David Proctor - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    Posted in the game thread, but apparently MASN was too cheap to hire a sideline reporter this year. Dan Kolko will be doing it

    • natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      No way. Stooping to a new low.

      • NatsNut - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:03 PM

        No it’s not. He’s not so bad.

    • veejh - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:06 PM

      I miss Kristina Akra.

  7. natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    “@AdamKilgoreWP: On Detwiler’s anger: Clippard has been one of the best relievers for years. And yet: “I still think I could start.” http://t.co/AoifT6He9V

    Anger?

    • NatsLady - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Yeah, I don’t think he (Clip) could start. He’d throw about 1,000 pitches per game. Love him to death, but efficient he ain’t.

  8. veejh - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Once again, take it easy on Fister until he’s 1000% ready to go. It’s a long season, and things will be much better with him healthy and in the rotation.

  9. natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    2 errors in the blink of an eye. Not even worth commenting on Ryan’s throw.

    • veejh - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      Crap tosses from everyone in the infield…sheesh.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        Pathetic and people wonder why Taylor Jordan hadbissues last year. He is an extreme groundball pitcher. Make plays. Help your pitcher out.

  10. L E Bush - Mar 19, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Detroit never should have traded Doug. I hope they rue the day they did.

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