Doug Fister to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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The Nationals were largely praised when they acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers during the offseason, but he has yet to throw a pitch for the club due to a lat strain suffered during spring training. If all goes according to plan, that will change soon.

Chase Hughes of reports that Fister threw 40 pitches in a bullpen session this afternoon and is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Sunday, likely with High-A Potomac. The plan calls for him to throw about 60 pitches for his first outing before going five innings or 75 pitches five days later. That would set him up to join the Nationals around May 7.

Fister, 30, posted a 3.30 ERA from 2011-2013. Only six pitchers (min. 500 IP) bested his 123 ERA+ during that time.

Mariners sign Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal

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The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.

This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.