PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Doug Fister emerged healthy from his start yesterday against the Marlins and now is scheduled to pitch again in Thursday’s Grapefruit League finale, putting the right-hander on track to make his first start for the Nationals on April 6.
Fister reported no problems with his elbow this morning, according to manager Matt Williams, who was pleased the right-hander made it through his 3 2/3-inning outing against Miami healthy after missing three weeks with inflammation.
“He came in today and reported no soreness, nothing other than normal soreness that any pitcher would have the following day,” Williams said.
The plan now is for Fister to throw 60-to-65 pitches Thursday against the Mets in the Nationals’ final Grapefruit League game. Assuming that goes well, the right-hander could then remain in Florida while the rest of the club heads north, throw roughly 80 pitches in a minor-league game April 1 and then join his teammates in advance of his season debut April 6 at Nationals Park against the Braves.
The Nationals' No. 5 starter, either Tanner Roark or Taylor Jordan, would start the club's home opener April 4, with Stephen Strasburg returning on normal rest to pitch April 5 before Fister made his debut.
“I would hope that he’s ready to go (on the 6th),” Williams said. “The more you push him, the more things could creep up. I would hope he is, though. Today’s report was good. Hopefully the next one is good, too.”
The Nationals want Fister to build his arm up to the point where he can throw at least 80 pitches in a regular-season game, preferably as much as 100. There is a scenario in which he could actually open the season on the disabled list so he could make another extended spring training start, but in that case he wouldn’t be eligible to join the active roster until April 12.