For weeks, the Nationals penciled in Doug Fister’s first start in a Nationals uniform for Wednesday, at Nationals Park against the Dodgers. Stephen Strasburg’s start Friday has them thinking about grabbing an eraser.
The Nationals counted on Fister’s debut to give Strasburg an extra two days off between starts. But after Strasburg threw only 83 pitches in six innings Friday night before he had to be lifted for a pinch hitter, Manager Matt Williams worries Strasburg might be too rested if he does not pitch again until Friday.
And so, Williams is considering giving Strasburg the Wednesday start originally planned for Fister. In that case, Fister would make his Nationals debut Friday in Oakland, after the Nationals’ off day Thursday.
“We might have to make a little bit of an adjustment there,” Williams said. “We’re still working that out. We’re always looking for extra for guys. But the fact that [Strasburg] only threw 80-something pitches may dictate that he get pushed. We’ll make that determination.”
Fister feels primed after he threw 79 pitches over 3 2/3 innings Friday night in Class AA Harrisburg, his final step in recovery from a lat strain he suffered on the final day of spring training.
“I’m right where I need to be,” Fister said. “I’m a little late, obviously. When I came out of the game, I felt like I could go back out for another couple innings. I feel like I’ll be ready for Wednesday.”
Fister traveled with the Nationals from Houston to Philadelphia, and he drove the 1 hour, 15 minutes to Reading for his start Friday. After he spent spring training recovering from elbow inflammation, he spent April healing the lat strain. Finally, he can just pitch for the team that acquired him this winter from the Tigers.
“I’m more excited to be part of the team,” Fister said. “Yes, I’ve been here. But I’m excited to help anyway that I can now, get out there and get off the mound for the first time for these guys and really feel apart of the team. It’s been a long time coming. I’m pretty amped about it.”
As the Nationals determine Fister’s first start, they are monitoring Wilson Ramos’s return from hamate bone surgery. Saturday, he caught six innings and went 1 for 4 in an extended spring training game. Ramos planned to fly to Washington on Saturday night, then report to Class A Hagerstown to get at-bats as a designated hitter. Ramos could return early in the week, but more than likely he will return Friday in Oakland, where he could play DH.
In other injury news, the Nationals suffered a casualty in the Denard Span-Cliff Lee dust-up last night: Bullpen coach Matt LeCroy strained his calf running (“running”) in from the outfield as the benches cleared.