Williams offers updates on Fister, Storen; Barrett returns to majors

Manager Matt Williams reported that right-hander Doug Fister had another quality simulated game in Florida and could be 15 days away from making his first start for the Nationals.

Fister went three innings and tossed 44 pitches.

“He felt good with everything,” Williams said. “Lots of grounders and reported he felt really good with it. The next step for him is work out down there tomorrow. The plan is for him to be here Thursday and continue to go through his program and get to a rehab start Sunday. That is the plan. But it went well today.”

If this week goes well, Fister will make a rehab start for the high Single-A Potomac Nationals on Sunday against Lynchburg at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Va. Game time is 1:05 p.m.

“We will get with him when he gets here,” Williams said. “That is the tentative plan anyway.”

Williams said Fister would pitch two rehab assignments. Sunday’s rehab assignment would be four innings, and then the final rehab game will be five innings.

Drew Storen handled his assignment Monday by getting Mike Trout out. Tyler Clippard did not have a great outing, allowing four runs, zero earned, and getting tagged with the loss. Rafael Soriano has done well in his closer role.

So, could Matt Williams adjust the bullpen roles for Storen, Clippard and Soriano going forward? Recently, it has been Storen in the seventh, Clippard in the eighth and Soriano in the ninth.

“Really, all three of those guys in theory at the back of the bullpen are interchangeable depending on workload, depending on what happens during the course of a series or during a week or whatever it is,” Williams said. “I expect Drew to be ready to pitch at any point. He could pitch the seventh, the eighth, he could close if need be and he has done it before and had success doing it.

“Does it change roles? I think that is yet to be determined. We will see how it all plays out. But he is capable, sure, and he has pitched really well.”

Interesting to hear Williams say that their roles could be “yet to be determined.”

If Clippard continues to struggle, Williams might make those changes and move Storen up to a more prominent role.

Williams said Storen was not as sharp during spring training as he is now. Fast-forward to Monday, Storen got Trout to line out to center field and end a seventh inning threat.

“In spring training, his command was a little bit off, and I think that was just spring training,” Williams said. “I think that is spring training. His first outing especially, he wanted to throw the ball really hard and lacked some command. Since that first outing, it is dialed in really well for him.

“Last night is a perfect example for what he can do. Arguably, if not the best all-around player in the American League, one of the best, situation called for him to come in and get (Trout) out and he did. It is great. He has done well.”

Earlier today, Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett returned to the Nats from Triple-A Syracuse. Left-hander Xavier Cedeno was optioned back to the minors.

Barrett said he is happy to be back, but he did not know how long he was going to be down in the minors and just concentrated on pitching.

“I controlled what I can control, everything else is out of my hands,” Barrett said. “When they sent me down, we needed a fresh arm, it is just the nature of the business.

“I didn’t think I would get called back up in 10 days. They told me it was a minimum of 10 days, it might be 12 days, it might be 15 days. So just going into that, I was just trying to get better every day the days I was at Syracuse and I am just glad to be back.”

Williams put Barrett in some very difficult situations late in games, and Barrett delivered. He was 1-0 with one hold, and a 0.00 ERA in six games.

“It is definitely gives me a little bit of confidence,” Barrett said of Williams picking him for those outings. “But I mean, whatever the role is whether we are up or down, it is a close game, I just got to go out there and make pitches and get guys out. I don’t really worry too much about that.”

Barrett also said his pitching teammates at Syracuse took the opportunity to joke with him when he returned for a short time to Triple-A. After all, how many pitchers with a 0.00 ERA get sent down?

“Oh absolutely, yeah, they made fun of me, ‘Oh, you give up a hit and you get sent down,’” Barrett laughed. “I carried the bullpen bag down there as well be cause I was a rookie in Triple-A as well.”

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