Injuries to Rendon, Storen overshadow Fister’s start

VIERA, Fla. - The game of baseball if filled with superstitions. Well, today is Friday the 13th, and it delivered some bad news for Nationals fans.

This morning came word that star third baseman Anthony Rendon will miss a week or more with a mild left MCL sprain. Then, after today’s fluky 6-6 tie with the Houston Astros, manager Matt Williams announced that closer Drew Storen had surgery today to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his left, or non-throwing, hand. Add them to an infirmary list that already includes three of the eight presumed starters in the field - center fielder Denard Span (core surgery), left fielder Jayson Werth (shoulder surgery) and second baseman Yunel Escobar (oblique strain).

doug-fister-throws-gray-sidebar.jpgRight-hander Doug Fister wasn’t thrilled with his performance today. Astros outfielder George Springer took a Fister cutter deep over the right-center wall for a solo homer in the third inning. It was the second of two runs Fister gave up, but the only earned run he was charged with. The 31-year-old scattered four hits while giving up two walks with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.

“It wasn’t my greatest today, but there’s a lot of things I can pull from it,” Fister said. “I’m kind of fighting myself timing-wise, so there’s a lot of highlights that I can make in the bullpen to really work on and lock in.”

Williams was satisfied with what he saw from his tall righty in his second appearance of the exhibition season.

“He threw a lot of pitches early, and got in some trouble and made pitches to get out of it but just couldn’t execute,” Williams said. “He wanted some more, but at that point he was at 50 (pitches) and we decided to get him out of there in the third inning. He looked good to me.”

Fister judged his 53-pitch, 33-strike performance a little more harshly.

“It’s something internal for me that I know if I throw a good pitch or not,” said Fister. “Obviously, I want to get results, I want to get the outs. If I throw a bad pitch and it gets an out, I still know that I need to work on that pitch. I try to be as honest with myself as I can. Looking at today, there was a lot of poor pitches that I threw and kind of got away with.”

The Nationals committed three errors in today’s game, including two on one rundown play by Ian Desmond and Kevin Frandsen that allowed the first Astros run to score in the second inning. Williams has a bit of sarcastic laugh about it after the game.

“It’s ironic because we worked on that same play this morning. The exact same play,” he said. “It went smoothly this morning, it didn’t go so smoothly this afternoon. The typical infield-in, man-on-third rundown this morning. Ran it three times and it was flawless, but it didn’t work out in the game. It’s part of spring training - kinks and bumps and bruises - and we’ll get ‘em all out of the way and go from there.”

Werth Sliding Catch Sidebar.jpgWerth threw from distances of 60 and 90 feet on the field before today’s game as he begins to ramp up his rehab program while recovering from January shoulder surgery.

“I thought he looked good,” said Williams. “It’s certainly not game speed by any stretch, but it’s part of his progression. He was a little tender afterwards, which is to be expected, so that’s part of his workload is to make himself a little bit sore, work through that, maybe take a day and go back at it again.”

Heath Bell gave up one hit with two strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings today. The three-time All-Star has pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings this spring as he attempts to catch Williams’ eye and make it back to the majors with the Nats.

“New cutter, new split,” said Williams. “Generally fastball, change-up and curveball guy, but he’s come up with a couple of new pitches that he’s using and using effectively so. I like what I’ve seen. He’s an extremely hard worker. Today, an inning plus - I liked it.”

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