Fister, who missed a start in early March due to elbow inflammation, threw off of flat ground March 11 and came through it with no issues.
"He threw fine, feels good," manager Matt Williams said. "We will progress him to the next step and eventually get him back on the mound and back in the game. He felt good today."
Williams said Fister would get a day off and then take the next step.
"(We want to) stretch him out a little more on the flat ground, get him in the bullpen and get him in a game," the manager said.
Williams believes that Fister should be able to make his first start of the season in April if he has no setbacks the rest of the spring.
Fister first felt the discomfort March 2, and he was been given anti-inflammatory medicine and ice, and he was prescribed rest. Fister has pitched just one game this spring, allowing two hits, one run and one walk in two innings. He struck out two.
While Fister remains a concern, another Nationals right-hander starting pitcher is on a roll.
In his third start of spring, Jordan Zimmermann retired the first 12 batters he faced March 11, striking out four in Washington's 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees in Viera, Fla. In a span of three spring games and nine innings, Zimmermann allowed three hits, no runs and one walk and while striking out nine.
Williams said afterward the game that Zimmermann would get consideration to start Opening Day but that nothing was decided.
--RHP Stephen Strasburg looked solid in his second spring start, an 11-1 win over the Cardinals. He walked the first two batters before getting on track. Strasburg allowed one run over three innings, gaining confidence in his slider. "When I'm in a jam, I'm going go to rely on the pitches that I'm confident in," Strasburg told the Washington Post. "It's a pitch that I'm working on.
--LHP Xavier Cedeno made five consecutive scoreless outings, including a three-up and three-down performance in the ninth inning of a 7-4 loss to the Astros on March 11. Cedeno had allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings.
--RHP Ross Ohlendorf left the March 6 game because of back spasms, but was able to play catch March 10. At the beginning of camp, Ohlendorf felt discomfort in his side and dealt with a finger laceration, but he told the Washington Post he is feeling better.
--RHP Ryan Mattheus remained out through March 10 because of chest inflammation. Manager Matt Williams told the Washington Post that Mattheus was stretched out to throw from 90 feet and then move to 120 feet if he feels good. Mattheus must build up arm strength after being shut down for 20 days.
--LHP Gio Gonzalez struck out the first five batters he faced but then allowed three hits, including a two-run homer to Carlos Corporan in a 7-4 loss to the Astros on March 10. Gonzalez had a little bit of trouble maintaining his consistency when having to pitch out of the stretch for the first time this spring. "That's what spring training's all about," Gonzalez told the Washington Post.
--LHP Michael Gonzalez, returning to the Nationals after spending last season with the Brewers, threw his first bullpen session March 9. Manager Matt Williams said the southpaw looked good. Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Nationals on March 4, feeling they offered the best chance to contend for a championship among the teams bidding on his services.
--RHP Rafael Soriano allowed five runs on five hits with one walk and two strikeouts in a 7-4 loss to the Astros on March 10. Through 1 2/3 innings this spring, Soriano had given up seven runs on eight hits. Manager Matt Williams is not too upset just yet. "I'm concerned about he feels, not necessarily the results," Williams told the Washington Post.
--SS Zach Walters was scorching the ball to begin spring training, going 8-for-13 (.615) with two doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBIs in eight games. The Nationals also played him at second base, which might be an indication he could have a shot to back up Anthony Rendon on the Opening Day roster.
--In their first round of spring cuts, the Nationals reassigned 1B/3B Matt Skole, RHP Gabriel Alfaro, C Jeff Howell, LHP Tyler Robertson, INF Josh Johnson and C Brian Jeroloman to minor league camp on March 9.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "With all that happened to him last year, I think he needs some consistent at-bats. So that's why we made the move, get him some multiple at-bats in a game and let him get his timing back a bit. When you miss that amount of time, it's difficult, though." -- Manager Matt Williams, on moving first base/third base prospect Matt Skole to the minor league camp.
RHP Stephen Strasburg
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
RHP Doug Fister
LHP Ross Detwiler
It is another big season for Strasburg, as he looks to put away the bad memories of the end of the 2012 season, when the right-hander was shut down in September because of the organization's innings-limit mandate for Tommy John surgery recovery. Last season was uneven for Strasburg, who hopes to build some game-to-game consistency and heavy innings, proving he can be a workhorse even with the club's top fastball.
Zimmermann has continued to build each season, becoming the club's ace. Gonzalez's experience and leadership -- and the most consistent southpaw arm -- are crucial to this team's possible postseason success. Fister's addition was the Nationals' biggest offseason acquisition and could quickly make fans forget the struggles of Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren the last two seasons as the team's prized pitching purchase. Detwiler will need to have a good spring to prevent the organization from turning to upstart RHP Taylor Jordan, who made a big splash as the Nationals made a desperate surge to get back in the race at the end of the season. Veteran RHP Livan Hernandez was invited to camp and has an outside shot of making the team in an undetermined role, either as a starter or reliever.
RHP Craig Stammen
RHP Tanner Roark
LHP Jerry Blevins
RHP Tyler Clippard
RHP Drew Storen
RHP Rafael Soriano (closer)
LHP Xavier Cedeno
RHP Christian Garcia
RHP Ross Ohlendorf
RHP Ryan Mattheus
The Nationals have another season with Soriano and hope that Storen has learned and perhaps forgotten what happened in the loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League division series from 2012. The team also avoided arbitration with Clippard for one year, $5.875 million, according to CBSSports.com. Clippard was the true workhorse in the bullpen last season along with Stammen.
They will need to avoid using Clippard too much early on so he is fresh for the September stretch drive. Clippard put together an amazing 2.41 ERA in 71 innings in 2013. Blevins was acquired in the offseason from Oakland and erases a big weakness in left-handed specialists vacant from last season's Opening Day roster. Mattheus is looking to bounce back from a broken hand early last season that derailed a promising start.
1. CF Denard Span
2. RF Jayson Werth
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. LF Bryce Harper
5. SS Ian Desmond
6. 1B Adam LaRoche
7. 2B Anthony Rendon
8. C Wilson Ramos
This lineup has been in place for almost two seasons, with the most recent addition being Rendon replacing Danny Espinosa. Span should be much more comfortable with a season under his belt against National League pitching. LaRoche had a down season but could easily move up to the fourth or fifth spot if his power returns. If Ramos can provide the power he displayed as the season wrapped up in 2013, this lineup could have an incredible one-two punch with Harper and Werth in the top half and Desmond and LaRoche getting on base in front of the catching spot. It is a big strength of the club and will challenge in the N.L. East.
TOP ROOKIES: RHP Lucas Giolito, 19, is expected to begin the season at Low Class-A Hagerstown after showing well last season with rookie-level Gulf Coast Nationals and short-season Class-A Auburn. Giolito went a combined 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 11 starts with 39 strikeouts and 14 walks. The Nationals are not concerned about the weather in Hagerstown or taking it easy with Giolito, only a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery. They would like to see him log innings and, if he does well in Hagerstown, could easily move up to High Class-A Potomac midseason.
--RHP Ryan Mattheus (sore chest) was shut down from throwing in late February. As of mid-March, he was long-tossing.
--RHP Erik Davis (right elbow strain) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 13. If healthy, Davis would have started the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
--RHP Doug Fister (right elbow inflammation) was scratched from his scheduled March 7 start. He threw off flat ground March 11. It was uncertain if he would be ready for the first week of the regular season.
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