Doug Fister in San Diego on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Doug Fister still has many hurdles to clear before he can return to the mound for the Nationals but, so far, he is encouraged by his progress. He threw 20-25 fastballs in a light bullpen session on Monday, his first since landing on the disabled list on May 15 with a strained right flexor muscle. Fister said “everything was good so onward we go.”

In a few days, Fister will throw another bullpen and use his secondary pitches. The most encouraging development so far, however, is that Fister said the tightness in his right forearm muscle is much improved.

“I think it’s pretty much subsided completely and that’s a good thing,” he said. “So now, getting back in the swing of things, obviously there’s hiccups along the way of tightness after throwing or a little sore after a bullpen, but no, things are good.”

The start to Fister’s season was inconsistent. He had a 4.31 ERA through seven starts and had allowed five home runs and 10 walks in 39 2/3 innings. His command was oddly off and velocity was down nearly two miles per hour. Asked how much the forearm tightness was bothering him throughout the season, Fister said he couldn’t really pinpoint when it started but knew something wasn’t right about his command and velocity.

“It was there lingering but nothing to the extent of what it was in San Diego [on May 14],” he said. “So at that point, that’s when we made the decision to go ahead and shut it down.”

Elbow issues often first manifest themselves as forearm pain. Fister, an impending free agent, said he wasn’t scared when the forearm injury appeared.

“It was really just more tight than complete, utter mayhem,” he said. “So I mean, it wasn’t a bad issue. It was more of just I really need a break for some reason, there’s so much tightness going on that we really need to address it.”