Apr 11, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT
ATLANTA — Doug Fister took another key step toward his eventual return from a strained lat muscle on Friday, throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen session at Turner Field and reporting no problems with either his side or his elbow.
“Really impressive,” manager Matt Williams said. “Threw it where he wanted to, had good life, he felt good after. We’ll progress from there, but it’s a really encouraging sign that he felt good afterward.”
Out since the final day of spring training when he felt tightness in his side while trying to pitch a minor-league game in Viera, Fister had only been throwing on flat ground in recent days but ramped it up Friday afternoon in pitching atop a bullpen mound for the first time. He threw mostly fastballs and changeups, according to Williams, but mixed in a few breaking balls along the way.
The Nationals plan to have Fister throw off a mound again in a few days, building up to 50 pitches. After that, he would likely be ready to face live hitters, either in a simulated game or perhaps on a rehab assignment in Viera or with one of the club’s minor-league affiliates.
“He’ll definitely have to have [a rehab assignment],” Williams said. “The question is when. We don’t know that yet.”
Though elbow inflammation initially slowed Fister’s progress in spring training, that issue has not cropped up at all over the last two weeks.
“He was fine until the lat issue,” Williams said. “So right now, it’s the lat. In all of his throwing and all the stuff we’ve been doing, he hasn’t reported any problem with the elbow. So that’s great.”
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