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Doug Fister pitches in Viera, timetable for return set

Apr 17, 2014, 6:15 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

Nationals starter Doug Fister threw two innings – a total of 28 pitches – on Thursday at extended spring training in Viera, Fl. as he continues his rehab from a right lat strain.

Manager Matt Williams expects Fister to make another appearance in Florida before beginning a minor league rehab assignment.

“No issues,” Williams said. “He felt good about it. Reports are that his second inning was better than his first inning, which is a good sign. The plan is that he’ll be on normal rest, five day-type rest, and do it again. He’ll increase it to three innings, 45 pitches and then from there look at rehab assignments. It all went good.”

The schedule Williams laid out would set up a return around 20 days from now. That would put Fister’s total absence to begin the season somewhere between five and six weeks.

Williams hopes to get Fister a start of five innings in the minors before bringing him to Washington.

“We gotta build him like we would build him in spring. I think he’s a little ahead of the game in that regard. I would certainly like him to get five innings somewhere, at least, until he can up that pitch count,” Williams said.

“We can push him back a day or two it he’s sore at all, or anything like that. That’s the luxury you have in that regard. 20-ish days, if all goes well.”

After joining the Nationals in a trade over the offseason, Fister has yet to debut with the team after beginning the year on the 15-day disabled list. He left a minor league start on March 27 after feeling discomfort while fielding a groundball. Fister was working his way back from elbow inflammation at the time before discovering the new injury.

Harper back in Nats’ lineup

Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ lineup to face the Cardinals on Thursday after missing the previous night due to a sore left quadriceps muscle. Harper feels good enough to play, though Matt Williams says it will be something the team watches closely moving forward.

“I came in and checked with him today, he’s good to go,” Williams said. “We just have to monitor it. It’s not serious. As we saw two nights ago, he’s guarding it a little bit on plays where he doesn’t have to go full out, but he also scored from third on a ball that got away from the infielder. He’s fine, but it is tight on him so we have to make sure we are taking the right precautions there so he can continue to play. We don’t want to get it too bad.”

Williams says Harper will have to play it carefully over the next few days and maintain contact with the team’s training staff. If he feels any unusual soreness during pregame warmups, the Nats will play it safe and give him rest.

“Of course there’s concern,” Williams said. “There would be concern with anybody. But as of now, he’s fine, he’s good to go.”

Harper was originally in the team’s lineup on Wednesday before being scratched shortly before first pitch. The night before he was removed from a game against the Marlins after aggravating the injury in the seventh inning.

Harper is hitting .340 this season with one home run and five RBI.





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