Fister scratched from start with elbow inflammation

Fister scratched from start with elbow inflammation
March 7, 2014, 11:00 am
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Doug Fister was scratched from his scheduled start today with inflammation in his throwing elbow, an injury the Nationals say isn’t serious but is enough to keep the right-hander from facing the Astros at Space Coast Stadium.

Fister complained of discomfort in his elbow following his spring debut Sunday against the Marlins, manager Matt Williams told reporters in Viera. He underwent an MRI on Thursday, which revealed no structural damage, only the inflammation.

The Nationals plan to give Fister several days off, then see if he can make his next scheduled start in five days.

“We’re not concerned about it,” Williams told reporters. “He feels like if (it was the regular) season he could go, he could pitch. But we’re not gonna take any chances. We’ll push him a couple days, redo the pitching schedules and just make sure he feels good next time out.”

Tanner Roark, who already was supposed to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen today, will now start the game in Fister’s place.

The Nationals, obviously, are downplaying the severity of the situation, and perhaps there truly is no reason to sound the alarms. Pitchers experience minor discomfort all the time, and if Fister indeed returns to the mound in five days, this will be a mere blip in an otherwise strong camp for the newly acquired right-hander.

But this wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher has noted what appears to be nothing more than minor elbow discomfort and ultimately discovers a far more serious ailment. From my March 23, 2012 article on Drew Storen …

An MRI taken of Drew Storen’s elbow revealed no ligament or tendon damage, only inflammation of the joint, and the right-hander expects to resume a throwing program and not miss significant time.

“It’s just rest for a couple more days, and then get it going and be good to go,” he said this morning inside the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium.

Storen wound up having surgery a couple weeks later to remove bone chips from his elbow and missed the season’s first 3 1/2 months.

This isn’t to suggest Fister is seriously injured, or that the Nationals are withholding info or misdiagnosing the problem. Not at all. Is it possible Fister’s ailment truly is a little inflammation and is no long-term concern for the Nationals? Absolutely.

But as we’ve learned over the years, it’s foolish to simply assume the best-case scenario without at least considering the possibility of a much worse-case scenario.

Until Fister is back on a mound pitching in a game, we won’t know for sure.