NEW YORK — Doug Fister is set to resume a throwing program on Thursday, the right-hander’s first step back from a strained lat muscle that prevented him from opening the season on-time for the Nationals.
Fister took five days off after first feeling the injury one week ago during a minor-league spring training game. Already behind schedule due to elbow inflammation that sidelined him three weeks in Viera, he now needs to build his arm back up, getting to the point where he’s ready to pitch five or six innings in a regular-season game.
Fister will begin that process Thursday by throwing from 60 feet on flat ground. He’ll slowly ramp up from there, moving back to 120 feet, then to a bullpen mound, then will begin pitching in rehab games. Having never topped more than 47 pitches in a game this spring, the veteran right-hander will need to nearly double that total before he’s ready to return.
“Yeah, but he’s ahead of the game,” manager Matt Williams said. “But what we don’t want is another setback. So we have to make sure that we do it properly. That he feels good about it, too.”
Meanwhile, reliever Erik Davis, who was shut down early in spring training with elbow pain, had Tommy John surgery Wednesday and will miss the season.
Davis, who made his big-league debut last year, noted elbow pain over the winter and was examined by team doctors at the time. He reported to spring training and again noted pain, so he was shut down and told to rest for 6-to-8 weeks.
Ligament reconstructive surgery was performed Wednesday in Los Angeles by orthopedist Neal ElAttrache.