(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Doug Fister played catch Sunday morning for the first time since he suffered the right lat strain that sent him to the disabled list to begin the season. Fister tossed throws from 60 feet, a first step that came without a hitch.

“He threw the ball fine,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “No pain. Didn’t feel anything in the back or the elbow. So it was good.”

Fister developed elbow inflammation in his first start of spring training, but recovered quickly enough to put himself on track to make his first start – which would have come today – of the season. But in his final tuneup, on March 27, Fister suffered a lat strain in a minor league start.

After an MRI exam the next day, the Nationals prescribed five days of rest. He worked out two days ago, and Sunday he felt strong enough to play catch. The Nationals expect Fister, the offseason prize they landed in  a trade with the Tigers, will need another month or so in order to rebuild arm strength.

“I’m sure he’s encouraged, but he’s probably going wacko,” McCatty said. “He doesn’t like sitting here and doing this. But he understands and knows there’s a process to doing it.”

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez left Nationals Park before Saturday’s game with the flu, the same illness that pushed Jordan Zimmermann’s first start back. Gonzalez threw a bullpen session Sunday morning, and he remains scheduled to start Tuesday against the Marlins.