VIERA, Fla. - Matt Williams should prepare himself for plenty of Doug Fister questions over the next handful of days.
That’s what will come when your new starter and much-hyped offseason addition is found to have inflammation in his throwing elbow after his first spring training appearance.
Williams reiterated this morning that Fister’s elbow is structurally sound after the right-hander was scratched from Friday’s scheduled start against the Astros. The Nationals say that Fister is merely dealing with inflammation in the elbow, which the right-hander called “typical” earlier today.
“He’s going through the treatment process,” Williams said. “Just getting ice, all the regular treatments that you do for anything that’s inflamed. ...
“He’ll be out a couple days, a few days. Get him to throw, see how it feels. Determine at that point whether he wants to do a bullpen, needs to do a bullpen, and then determine when his next turn would be. But right now, we just shut him down for a few and get (the inflammation) out of there.”
Williams went as far as to say that an MRI provided “good news” when it showed that Fister was merely dealing with inflammation. Williams said that to this point, the team has not considered giving Fister a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot, which is sometimes administered to players in order to try and clear inflammation.
Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke got a PRP shot last spring when it was found that he had inflammation in his throwing elbow. Greinke did not need to undergo any type of surgery and came back from the shot to post a 2.63 ERA in 177 2/3 innings last season.
Williams says that the Nats will move Fister along carefully, being mindful of the fact that it’s still pretty early in spring.
“Certainly, you want to progress him through spring training and make sure he’s ready to pitch, but if stuff like this happens, there’s nothing you can do other than get him healthy and proceed,” Williams said. “That’s our plan of action. Timeframe, we just don’t know. But the good news about it is that structurally everything is good.”
The next handful of days will likely prove crucial for Fister. If the inflammation clears to the point that he can throw off flat ground and he doesn’t feel any lingering after-effects in the elbow, the Nats might be able to slot him back in their rotation and keep building the right-hander’s arm strength leading up to opening day.
If the inflammation persists, however, or if Fister experiences more discomfort when throwing, this could be something that warrants further action.