Williams awaiting report on Fister's bullpen session

LAKELAND, Fla. - Right-hander Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since March 2 with inflammation in his pitching elbow, threw a bullpen session this morning in Viera, Fla., one day after feeling tightness in the affected arm following three consecutive days of throwing.

Nationals manager Matt Williams was awaiting the arrival of pitching coach Steve McCatty with a report on Fister's progress, but continued to preach that the team wasn't as concerned with Fister missing a couple of spring starts as he was making sure the righty was available for as many outings as possible once the regular season begins.

McCatty stayed back from the team's scheduled 8:30 a.m. departure time to monitor Fister and other pitchers scheduled for bullpen sessions.

"All the pictures came back good," Williams said when asked for an update on Fister. "Him going through the process now is part of the process. But I'm not concerned about it. I think he'll be just fine."

But because of the time he's missed, and the fact that there are just short of three weeks left in spring training, the Nats may have to come up with some creative ways of stretching Fister out while not impeding other pitchers' attempts to do the same.

"Given the time off, how far can we build him? That's the only question," Williams said. "We'll go through that progression and see where we're at."

Williams said Fister seems to understand the cautious approach the team is taking, no small concession considering he's a newcomer who wants to make a positive first impression.

"We want to make sure that we are taking care of him for the long term, as opposed to his first start," Williams said. "We have to make sure that we progress slowly and make sure that we have him for a full season and not rush him too quickly and lose him. Again, all indications are everything's good, but the soreness and inflammation, we need to get out of there."

In other Nats injury news:

* Shortstop Ian Desmond seems to be recovering from the cold bug that caught him, and the cut on his right pinkie finger has healed sufficiently that he's scheduled to take some light swings in Viera today.

* Outfielder Bryce Harper, who's also been dealing with a cold, has today off and Williams is hopeful he'll return to Grapefruit League action soon.

* Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who has been dealing with shoulder tightness and general body soreness, is slated to throw at Space Coast Stadium today.

"We'll get him back in there, either (with) us tomorrow or in a minor league situation tomorrow," Williams said.

Both Harper and Zimmerman are scheduled to be on the travel squad that will play the Cardinals in Jupiter on Saturday.

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