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Fister will pitch minor-league game Thursday

Mar 25, 2014, 10:50 AM EST

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VIERA, Fla. — Doug Fister’s next start will come not in the Nationals’ Grapefruit League finale but in a minor-league game Thursday where club officials can better control his pitch count.

Fister could have started against the Mets in Port St. Lucie in the Nationals’ final Florida exhibition game before Opening Day, but the team prefers to keep the right-hander in the more-controlled environment of the minor-league complex adjacent to Space Coast Stadium.

“Just to make sure that he’s good,” manager Matt Williams said. “At this point, we want to make sure we can get him clean innings to build him. We can just control it a little bit more. And that’s fine. He’s a pro. He knows what he’s doing. That’s the only reason behind it.”

Jordan Zimmermann will start Thursday’s game against the Mets, his final tune-up before his regular-season debut April 3 at Citi Field.

Fister threw 47 pitches Saturday against the Marlins after missing three weeks with elbow inflammation. He’s still slated to throw 60-to-65 pitches Thursday, moving him one step closer to opening the regular season on time, though it’s not yet a certainty that will happen.

If all goes well Thursday, Fister would remain in Florida after the rest of the club heads north and start in another minor-league game April 1, building up his pitch count to about 80. That would set him up to make his Nationals debut April 6 against the Braves in Washington.

Members of the big-league coaching and training staff won’t be able to watch him pitch in person over the next week, but they aren’t worried about evaluating him anymore. They simply want him to build up his arm strength and stamina after missing much of spring training.

“No, I don’t feel like I need to watch him pitch,” Williams said. “He’s truthful with us. He’s been around the block a time or two. He knows what he’s doing.”

Though they expect Fister to be ready to pitch in that April 6 game — the first time the club needs a fifth starter during the season — the Nationals don’t want to make that declaration before they know he’s fully ready. That, in turn, could delay the decision to name the final member of their rotation, because it’s possible (though unlikely) they’ll need both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan to start during the season’s first week.

If the Nationals decided Fister needed more time to prepare, they could place him on the disabled list, retroactive to March 26. (MLB does not allow season-opening DL moves to be backdated more than five days). Under that scenario, Fister wouldn’t be eligible to return until April 10.

  1. Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Y’know, it can’t hurt that none of our NL foes are getting repeated looks at this new-fangled pitcher from the American League until the season kicks off.

    • 34natsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Great point Eric

  2. Drew - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Hope Mr. Fister is OK.

    Off topic: With the Chisox keeping Adrian Nieto as their backup catcher, another Nat draftee makes the Show.

    I think Nieto is the sixth from the Nats’ 2008 draft, joining Crow, Espinosa, Milone, TyMo and Lombo.

    Six big leaguers in one draft is a lot of value.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      That is a good draft. Just wish the ones the Nats kept became star players.

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        I’m still hopeful re: Espi…he really seems capable of it. He just might realize in the next year or two if he carries his new approach into the season…his ST SO rate is ~12 points below his career rate, and, iirc, ~9 points below his SO rate last year during ST.

      • scnatsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        Eric I hope that this is the spring training that Espi puts the long ball swing behind him, fills in well for Rendon/Desi and is our starting 2B next year with Zim crossing the diamond.

    • thelatencn - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:31 AM

      Shall we call him Mr. Fr.?

    • Jb - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Bowden’s last draft.

  3. 34natsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM

    Mark: Great points, and I agree whole-heartedly. I’d even go as far to say the NATS should look around and take note of all the injuries around the league. Perhaps its time to consider a 6 man rotation? Might not be an option for all teams, but these Nationals are deep at SP. Sure, theoretically you may not have your best Pitchers up as often, but if they avoid injury you’re likely getting more rather than less out of them. Additional benefit is that the entire staff will stay fresh as compared to the rest of the league and will be theoretically stronger in each start. One more benefit… it allows us to develop as well as discover just who are best options are come playoff time… or show off trade bait (SP highest demand position every year at trade deadline) for a position player should a weakness emerge.

    Here’s me advocating for the 6 man rotation expirement.

    • Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      Six man rotations never happen, but Nats would be especially crazy to use a 6 man rotation. When you have a top three like Stras, Gio, and JZnn, you definitely want to use them as often as possible during a season.

      • Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:06 PM

        6 man rotations may make some sense, but where do you stop.

        The Chisox tried it a few years back, and then there was the Brewers’ attempt at having starting pitchers pitch just 5 innings, or a pre-ordained pitch count.

        Interesting that Don Cooper of the Chisox is a strong pitching coach proponent of taking better care of pitchers. In a chart that was linked on this site about a week ago by Faraz, I believe, it showed that the Chisox have had the least incidence with TJ in MLB.

    • DaveB - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      tcos … that is part of a 5 part series spread over Feb & March that has lots of data on the dispute, as well as comparable deals, much of which I had never seen before, let alone all aggregated in one place. While Camden Depot did obviously have more of an Orioles perspective than I do, it was reasonably balanced in presenting the data, and makes it clear why it has been so hard to get this resolved. One of the points I hadn’t fully appreciated was how it isn’t just the media rights fees that we all hear about, but you also have to consider equity payments and equity ownership in the RSN (MASN in our case) when you compare the various deals (and when you consider those, the Nats deal isn’t quite as bad as we think, although it is still shortchanging us, at least in the short run … probably why MLB is supplementing the payments).
      The current deal just seems fatally flawed and almost impossible to fix, when you consider that:
      1. The Nats are due a reset to “fair market value”
      2. The Orioles have a right to the same amount, even tho the Nats market is somewhat larger
      3. The teams (especially the Orioles since they own more of MASN) would much prefer payment in terms of MASN equity profit distributions, as they don’t affect the MLB profit sharing in the same way as media rights fees.
      4. At least partly because Comcast RSN competes against MASN, and Comcast controls much of the cable market in this region, MASN gets lower subscriber fees than most other regions
      So … larger media rights fees would decrease MASN equity profit distributions and probably bankrupt the network … Comcast has no motivation to pay a premium price for the network … the Orioles are grandfathered into an unfair deal that they wouldn’t relinquish without a fight … etc. etc..
      It just seems like a mess …. I can’t wait to see how it finally gets resolved.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        The equity stake should have nothing to do with it. The Lerners paid a price for the team factoring in a whole bunch of factors and the equity stake was always the same and not in dispute. Angelos did 1 smart thing in 2005 as he had a vision and was realizing the value of his own RSN. The RSN would be worth more IMHO if the content and quality was better like CSN.

        The annual rights fee is a separate issue and the only issue unless Angelos wants to renegotiate everything then the RSN is open for discussion.

        The Phillies deal is the best comp available based on market size however the Washington DC demographics is among the best in the country based on wealth and age and education.

        This is why $70 to $120 million is a range that could be debated but nowhere should it be less than $70. Look what Houston got and they have market issue cable constraints where there viewership doesnt equal the entire market right now.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:50 PM


        As I understand, the point is that ownership of the RSN–and any profits from it–are independent of the revenue sharing system among MLB teams, while rights fees that the teams receive from the RSN (even if they own it themselves) are subject to revenue sharing.

        Keeping down the rights fee payments makes the Os look poorer to MLB (and thus benefits them in revenue sharing), while leaving more money in MASN’s pockets–which also benefits the Os disproportionately.

  4. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Repeating what I said about Fister at the end of the last thread:

    If April 10 is the earliest day he can be brought back from the 15 day DL, that works perfectly for making his first start April 12, assuming he’s ready, and letting the loser of the 5th starter competition start on April 6. I suggested that several days ago and still think it’s a good idea to be very careful with Fister, especially since our No. 5 and “No. 6” starters are so evenly matched. Heck, Rizzo and Williams could even make the decision on who will be the 5th starter after April 6, and let Roark and Jordan each make a regular season start before making the call.

  5. natinalsgo - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Not only is Adrien Nieto making the White Sox, if the White Sox don’t make a trade this week (my source 😉 ) says he will be the Opening Day catcher for the White Sox.

  6. Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    We finally found out our game ticket lottery picks last week. We have April 6, so we’re looking forward to seeing Fister.

    So last night, Cunegonde says to me, “You know, April 4 is my AWS day.” (for you non-government types, that’s “Alternate Work Schedule” day, meaning it’s her every-two-weeks extra day off that she gets for working 9-hour days…)


    “So do you want to go to Opening Day? I’ve never been to Opening Day.”

    “Do you know how much they want for Opening Day tickets? Twenty bucks just for SRO.”

    “I don’t want to do SRO…”

    “Well, anything in our regular area” (section 219 – Stars and Stripes club) “is running about $200 per seat.”

    “I don’t want to pay that much. But I want to go to Opening Day. I’ve never been to Opening Day.” (this sounds very similar to what she was saying about ST several months ago…)

    So we talked back and forth about how much we’d be willing to pay, and I just got done paying $73 per ticket for row F in section 312. That’s the N-A-T-S NATS NATS NATS WOOH! section, isn’t it?

    Nucking futs, but that’s what the market will bear, and I’m nothing if not a free-market fan…

    • Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      The NATS NATS WOO section is 313, but you’ll be right next door.

  7. Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Before I put them up on StubHub or SeatGeek:

    Cunegonde and I have two tickets for the June 18 game. That’s Wednesday night against the Bo Porter’s Astros.

    We absolutely will not be able to make that game.

    The seats are section 219 – Stars and Stripes club – row C, seats 21 and 22 (on the aisle, the home plate end of the row).

    Does anyone have comparable seats they would like to swap for that game? Or if, not comparable, possibly less-desirable seats for multiple games?

    STH price for these tickets is $50 each; single game price is $62 each. I’d like $45 each, $90 for the pair, only willing to sell as a pair.

    Interested? Contact me at gilbertbp (at) comcast dot net.

    Hope no one minds if I post this once a day for the next couple of days; if there’s a problem doing it, please let me know, especially you, Mark Z.






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