Williams updates Fister's simulated game and Harper's quad

Manager Matt Williams had some positive news on the recovery of right-hander Doug Fister, who has been on the disabled list with a right lat strain since the beginning of the season

Williams reported Fister tossed two innings and 28 pitches today in a simulated game in extended spring training in Viera, Fla.

"Felt good about it," Williams said. "Reports are his second inning was better than his first inning, which is a good sign and so the plan is he will be on normal rest, five-day type rest and do it again. Increase it to three innings, 45-ish pitches. And then look at rehab assignments. So it all went good."

Williams confirmed after these throwing sessions he would then want Fister to make at least a pair of rehab assignments at a local minor league affiliate.

"We got to build him like we would in spring," Williams said. "I think he is a little bit ahead of the game in that regard. But certainly like to get him five innings somewhere at least, to make sure he is eeking up that pitch count. I think a couple."

So is Fister out another 20 days or so?

"Again, assuming all goes well," Williams said. "We can push him back a day if he is sore at all. That is the luxury you have in that regard. 20-ish days, if all goes well."

Williams also reported left fielder Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals lineup tonight against the Cardinals. He missed Wednesday's game against the Marlins because of quad tightness.

"Yeah, he came in, checked with him today, he is good to go," Williams said. "Pending a hiccup during batting practice, he will be in the lineup. We just have to monitor it. It is not serious. It is not that he can't (run). The night before, two nights ago, he is guarding it a little bit on plays he doesn't have to go full out. But he also scored from third on a ball that got away from an infielder.

"He is fine. But it is tight on him. So we have to make sure we are taking the right precautions so he can continue to play. We don't want it to get too bad.

Just because Harper is back in lineup tonight, Williams is not conceding that his young outfielder is 100 percent healthy. The Nationals are still keeping a watchful eye on his running.

"Of course, there is concern," Williams said. "There would be concern with anybody. But as of right now, it is fine. He is good to go. The thing that Bryce has to do is he has to monitor it himself.

"He has been playing a lot of center field, he has been running the bases a lot. Those are all really good things. And he has done it fine. But he just continues to make sure he works on it and the trainers get a hold of him. He is doing the right things. Today he feels good."

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