Doug Fister plays catch for first time since lat strain

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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.

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.