Mar 22, 2014, 9:21 AM EST
VIERA, Fla. — Doug Fister was among the most impressive players in camp for about three weeks. But then the right-hander experienced elbow inflammation after his first start of the spring and he’s spent the last 20 days working way back.
Today, though, Fister returns to the mound for a Grapefruit League game, scheduled to throw three innings and 45 pitches against the Marlins. He won’t exactly be facing Miami’s best, since it’s a split-squad lineup, but the results are much less important than his ability simply to complete his three innings of work in good health.
“I want him to be healthy and I want him to feel good,” manager Matt Williams said. Results are not important right now for him. Just that he makes it to that pitch count and feels good going into tomorrow.”
After giving his regulars yesterday off, Williams has just about everybody back playing today. And he’s got Ian Desmond once again hitting second, which certainly looks like his plan to open the season. The 3-4-5 arrangement remains a work-in-progress, though, with Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper all getting shots at all spots.
Updates to come, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MIAMI MARLINS (ss)
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Doug Fister
LF Jake Marisnick
2B Donovan Solano
1B Jeff Baker
CF Marcell Ozuna
RF Reed Johnson
3B Ty Wigginton
C Jeff Mathis
SS Juan Diaz
RHP Henderson Alvarez
1:06 p.m. — We are underway as Doug Fister fires a fastball low for ball one to Jake Marisnick.
1:12 p.m. — A solid first inning back for Fister. He did give up a leadoff single to Marisnick, but it was a grounder through the right-side hole. He also hung a curveball to Jeff Baker, but the wind kept the ball in the park and it was caught by Bryce Harper at the warning track. More importantly, Fister threw 11-of-14 pitches for strikes, showed good command of his sinker and struck out Marcell Ozuna on a curveball.
1:25 p.m. — Another solid inning for Fister. He did plunk Reed Johnson in the thigh to open the second but quickly rebounded to get a 6-4-3 double play out of Ty Wiggintin (with Danny Espinosa showing off a nice turn at second base). Fister then struck out Jeff Mathis with a nasty, 3-2 curveball. He’s not perfect sharp, but he’s looked pretty good so far: 25 pitches, 16 strikes through two scoreless innings.
1:34 p.m. — A couple of nice pieces of hitting from the Nats in the bottom of the second. Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche each rapped opposite-field base hits with two outs, with LaRoche poking a double down the left-field line. Espinosa tried to go the other way, also, but wound up flying out to left to end the inning. Still 0-0.
1:42 p.m. — And that should probably do it for Fister. He goes three scoreless innings on 40 pitches (26 strikes). He allowed two soft, opposite-field hits to Marisnick and grazed Johnson with that pitch in the second. He also struck out three and overall looked pretty good for a guy making his first appearance in 20 days. Assuming he says his elbow feels fine, you’ve got to say this was a major positive development for Fister and the Nats.
1:55 p.m. — And the Nats take a 1-0 lead thanks to a pair of opposite-field singles by Span and Desmond, the kind of hits that are usually called “a nice piece of hitting.” Which begs the question, why isn’t it just called “nice hitting?” Anyways, with runners on second and third and one out, Werth lined a ball right at Johnson in right field, who flat-out dropped the ball. That brought home an unearned run and gives the Nats a 1 -0 lead. And, actually, Fister is back out for the top of the fourth. So maybe he’ll get to face another batter or two and reach his 45-pitch count for the day.
2:02 p.m. — Indeed, Fister got to face two more batters, inducing a groundball to short and then striking out Ozuna looking at a sinker to end a very strong afternoon. His line: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 47 pitches, 32 strikes. Chris Young now in from the bullpen.
2:38 p.m. — Just got back from the clubhouse, where Doug Fister was pleased with his first outing. Most importantly, he said his arm felt fine and he’s confident he’ll be ready to start the season on-time. It’s still 2-0 Nats, now in the bottom of the sixth.
2:51 p.m. — Rafael Soriano entered for the seventh, and immediately hung a 2-2 slider to Ozuna, who crushed the ball to left-center for a solo homer. Not a good pitch, obviously. To his credit, Soriano composed himself and then retired three in a row, striking out both Johnson and Mathis. So it’s 2-1 Nats at the stretch.
2:56 p.m. — Whoa, back-to-back homers for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh. LaRoche went opposite-field — yes, opposite-field — and put one over the fence in left. With some help from the wind. Espinosa needed no help on his bomb to right-center, though. That ball was crushed. No cutting down on his swing there, folks. It’s 4-1 Nats now.
3:07 p.m. — Rough inning of relief for Ross Detwiler. He served up a two-run double to Donovan “Don’t Call Me Onion” Solano off the left-field wall. Harper then fired the ball 320 feet to the plate, allowing Solano to take third. Which proved costly, because Detwiler then got a fly ball to deep center, bringing the runner home and tying this game 4-4 in the eighth. If Harper doesn’t overthrow the cut-off man, Solano never gets to third base and thus can’t score. I’ll be interested to hear what Matt Williams says afterward.
3:25 p.m. — A rough at-bat for Harper in the bottom of the eighth with a chance to tie the game. He took a pair of called strikes from Archimedes Caminero, then flailed at an offspeed pitch to strike out and let out a very loud expletive as he walked back to the dugout. The good news: Ramos delivered the go-ahead double moments later, putting the Nats up 5-4 as Michael Gonzalez enters in the save situation.
3:37 p.m. — And Gonzalez blows the save. It’s now 5-5 as we go to the bottom of the ninth.
3:41 p.m. — Holy cow! Espinosa with his second homer of the day, this one to the opposite field! Nats win 6-5.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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