As a result of that tightness, the Nationals will evaluate Fister tomorrow morning before clearing him to throw his scheduled Friday bullpen session.
Fister has been sidelined since March 2 because of inflammation in his right elbow. He had thrown off flat ground the last two days without any issue, but felt a little something in the arm following today’s session, per Williams. The Nationals don’t think that the tightness is anything serious - hence them proceeding with the plan to have Fister throw the bullpen tomorrow - but they’ll see how the right-hander feels before they clear him to get back on a mound for the first time in nearly two weeks.
“It’s a cold, windy day out there so we’re not putting too much into that, but he was a little tight out there today,” Williams said. “... We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and adjust if we need to adjust.”
The question at this point is whether the tightness in Fister’s arm is just a result of three straight days of throwing after sitting for a while or whether it’s the inflammation in his elbow popping up again. Tomorrow should help tell the story.
Update: Fister said a bit ago that he doesn’t view today’s tightness as a setback, per se, and that he wasn’t sure whether the issue came about as a result of the weather or the elbow inflammation.
“It’s probably a combination of both, really,” he said. “I don’t know what to think. It’s a little cold outside, so I’m sure that had something to do with it. It’s a little stiff today.
“Just a matter of working the kinks out.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman is sitting out a second straight day today, and he’s scheduled to rest again tomorrow after feeling “a little shoulder tightness, a little body tightness,” according to Williams.
Zimmerman has been getting in work not just at third base, but also at first this spring, a more intense workload than he usually has this early in spring. Williams said that many players tend to feel some type of soreness or tightness at this point in camp, and didn’t sound concerned about Zimmerman’s status.
“I think he’s fine. I wouldn’t have any reason to think otherwise,” Williams said. “... If he feels really good tomorrow, he’ll go through all of the stuff and we can adjust, if we need to. But the plan is for (him to return to the lineup) Saturday.”
Williams said that shortstop Ian Desmond was sent home with a cold today. A bug of some kind is apparently going around the Nats clubhouse, and Desmond wasn’t going to be playing today anyway after suffering a minor finger injury yesterday, so the Nats decided to quarantine him by sending him home.
Bryce Harper is also dealing with some type of cold today, but he’s in the Nats lineup this afternoon against the Mets. Williams said that Harper will play today and sit tomorrow. The Nats will evaluate his health from there.
While we’re on the topic of injuries, Ryan Mattheus says that he’s set to throw another bullpen session tomorrow, in which he’ll throw around 35 pitches. This bullpen session will feature his full repertoire of pitches, including offspeed stuff. Mattheus says he feels great and is hopeful he’s “out of the woods” after missing more than three weeks due to inflammation in his chest.
Left-hander Michael Gonzalez is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut tomorrow against the Tigers, this after he appeared in a minor league game yesterday.
Gonzalez faced four hitters (all of which are right-handed) yesterday, working through a full inning. He was expecting some soreness after the outing given that it was his first time facing hitters after signing a minor league deal with the Nats last week, but said he feels really good.
The veteran lefty expects to only need five or six spring appearances to be regular season-ready.
Williams was asked about the Nats’ cuts today, specifically two prospects - outfielder Michael Taylor and left-hander Matt Purke, who were both optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.
Williams said that Taylor reminds him of former Angels and Blue Jays outfielder Devon White because of his build, and liked what Taylor showed in his first big league camp.
“I was impressed. I like what I saw,” Williams said.
As for Purke, Williams said that based on what he saw this spring, the lefty should be able to have better success against left-handed hitters than he did last season. Purke’s arm angle is close to three-quarters, which typically makes it tougher for a lefty to get a good read on the ball, and so Williams expects him to fare better against left-handed bats this year.
“I think he’s got the ability to compete at a high level, and arguably the highest level,” Williams said.
Here are today’s Nats and Mets lineups:
For the Nats
CF Denard Span
2B Jeff Kobernus
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Zach Walters
DH Tyler Moore
SS Danny Espinosa
RF Brian Goodwin
LHP Ross Detwiler
For the Mets
SS Ruben Tejada
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Curtis Granderson
1B Josh Satin
C Travis d’Arnaud
LF Andrew Brown
DH Anthony Recker
CF Matt den Dekker
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka