Finally a dose of positive news for the Nationals.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, right-hander Doug Fister played catch Sunday for the first time since suffering a lat strain on March 27.
“No pain,” reported pitching coach Steve McCatty.
Fister is basically starting over after being interrupted in Nationals camp this spring by both the lat strain and elbow inflammation, so he will need at least a month to get himself prepared for major league action. That points to an early-to-mid May return.
The 30-year-old right-hander was traded to the Nationals this winter from the Tigers in exchange for utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi and left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.
Fister posted a 3.67 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 208 2/3 innings last season for Detroit.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.