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Doug Fister leaves game with lat strain, doubtful for opening day rotation

Mike Oz
Big League Stew
MLB: Spring Training-Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals
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Doug Fister left a minor-league game Thursday with an arm injury. (USA TODAY Sports)

Geez, if you're an MLB pitcher, don't you just wish you could fast forward through the rest of March? Pitchers get hurt, it's part of the game, but this month it seems like it's been one pitcher injury after another

Add Washington Nationals new acquisition Doug Fister to the list, which already includes Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Patrick Corbin, Jarrod Parker, Kris Medlen and so on. Fister, traded to the Nats from the Tigers this winter, was believed to a rotation-solidifying piece that made the Nats the favorite in the NL East, and gave the team one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.

Well, his spring hasn't been too kind to that notion. First, Fister was behind schedule because of elbow inflammation and then Thursday he was pulled out of a minor-league game because of a lat strain.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post has the details and the outlook:

“It certainly is a setback,” Manager Matt Williams said.

Nationals team physician Wiemi Douoguih will evaluate Fister on Friday in Washington. The Nationals do not know how much time he will miss. Even if he suffered only a momentary setback, it will prevent him from building sufficient arm strength to make his first start, which had been projected for April 6. Both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan, who had been vying for the final spot after making strong-yet-brief impressions as rookies in 2013, will likely make the Nationals’ opening day rotation.

“Any time you have to shut anybody down, you’re always concerned,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “If it’s something or because his elbow was bothering him, I would have shut it down over that, too. You got to be cautious about something like this.”

With the division foe Atlanta Braves already down two pitchers, the Nats looked to have a chance to dethrone them atop the NL East this season. A healthy Doug Fister — 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 208 2/3 innings last season — would help that cause immensely.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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