LAKELAND, Fla. - On a day when he watched his mound staff get battered for 22 hits and 12 runs, Nationals manager Matt Williams got a dose of good pitching news.
Right-hander Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since March 2 with inflammation in his pitching elbow, threw a bullpen session without any problems this morning in Viera. While the Nationals will wait to see how Fister feels tomorrow before plotting out next steps, this morning's bullpen represented a step in the right direction for a club concerned about its prized offseason acquisition.
"No issues during his bullpen today," Williams said a few minutes after the Nationals wrapped up a 12-6 loss to the Tigers. "He extended it, he threw all of his pitches. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, but today was good."
Pitching coach Steve McCatty monitored the bullpen session before heading to Joker Marchant Stadium for today's game, and said Fister threw mostly fastballs, but mixed in a couple of curveballs and a couple of changeups.
Because Fister has thrown four days in a row and seems to be doing so without incident, McCatty said the progression represents "a positive sign."
"You got to be cautious right now and make sure he's fine," McCatty said. "We'll see where he is tomorrow morning. Depending how he is, we'll see when we'll get him in a game."
Fister had thrown three straight days on flat ground before the bullpen session, but complained that he had some tightness in his arm after his third day of throwing on flat ground. Williams figures the Nationals training staff will check Fister out Saturday, then the right-hander will take a couple of days off before possibly throwing to live hitters in a batting practice session.
"The adrenaline ramps a little bit in that situation, so we have to test him there, too," Williams said.
McCatty thinks the cool temperatures on Fister's third day of flat ground activity may have had something to do with the problems he experienced.
"It wasn't the greatest weather to play catch in, especially early in the morning," McCatty said. "None of the pitchers feel that good, but it was really cool. I just took it as a grain of salt because it's cool."