JUPITER, Fla. - Matt Williams will manage the Nationals for the home portion of Sunday’s split-squad games, when Justin Verlander and the Tigers roar into Space Coast Stadium. Triple-A Syracuse skipper Billy Gardner will manager the other split-squad game versus the Astros in Kissimmee.
Williams and the Nats’ major league staff will be in Viera because it’s the team’s second game with replay this spring - and the game’s on MASN HD beginning at 1 p.m., to boot. But in order to get acclimated to how the system will work, and how the Nationals will work within the new replay system, Williams wants all of the team’s coaches and staff to be in the same place.
Sounds reasonable. Now let’s see if replay goes off without any technical difficulties.
In other pregame news before Washington’s Stephen Strasburg battles the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez in a battle of presumed aces:
* Shortstop Ian Desmond, who has been sidelined with a cut on his right pinky finger, took full swings in Viera on Friday and is scheduled to take grounders there today. He should be in the lineup Sunday.
* Outfielder Bryce Harper is still battling a cold and dealing with some congestion, but since he’s “itching” to play, Williams has him in today’s lineup. But the manager will keep an eye on Harper and might have a quick hook if he feels his star is at all compromised.
* Right-hander Doug Fister, who came out of his bullpen session yesterday with no issues, will get the next couple of days off before the Nationals plan out next steps, Williams said. Live batting practice will likely be the next part of the process, but Williams didn’t discount the possibility of Fister pitching in a minor league game.
“We want to make sure we’re building him, so it could be either,” Williams said. “Depending on how it sets up and where we’re at with the rest of the guys we’ve got to get starts to. ... As of right now, yesterday was good, he came out of it good, he’ll do all of his stuff he needs to do today and we’ll re-evaluate in the next day or so how we’re going to go about doing it. But he’s on schedule.”
Williams talked to Fister this morning before departing Space Coast Stadium “and he felt good,” the manager said.