NEW YORK — Doug Fister will make another rehab start later this week, and if all goes well the right-hander likely would be ready to return to the Nationals rotation after that. Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is likely to face live hitters later this week as he moves closer to coming off the disabled list himself.
Fister, who pitched 3 2/3 innings Sunday for Class AAA Syracuse, will next pitch Friday for Class AA Harrisburg, building up his arm. The veteran right-hander, on the DL with a strained forearm muscle since May 15, is slated to throw up to 75 pitches, after which he could be ready to return to the big-league rotation.
“We know Doug,” manager Matt Williams said. “It’s a matter of him making sure that he can get 6-7 innings, at least. He [was] 3 2/3 [innings] and 60 [pitches in his last start]. There’s no reason he can’t go to 75 and see where he’s at there, and then we can make a decision.”
Rookie right-hander Joe Ross, who impressed in his major-league debut over the weekend, will start Friday at Milwaukee, Williams said, with Fister lined up to replace him after that turn.
Strasburg, meanwhile, threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and emerged with no discomfort in his lower neck or upper back, which landed him on the DL one week ago. Strasburg is now ready to face live hitters, which he’ll likely do later this week at Miller Park.
Once he crosses that hurdle, Strasburg will need to go on a rehab assignment, Williams said. That’s the true test of his discomfort, which to date has only occurred while pitching in actual games.
“It’s particularly important for him to go out there and get some adrenaline going and let it fly, and make sure he’s OK,” the manager said.
In other injury news, Denard Span was scratched from Tuesday night’s lineup, likely due to a recurrence of the back spasms that forced him out of Sunday’s game early.
Span had originally been listed as the Nationals’ leadoff hitter and center fielder. But after experiencing those spasms during Sunday’s loss to the Cubs, he wanted to test himself out during batting practice before knowing he would be good to play. Something apparently didn’t feel right, because he was scratched from the lineup about an hour before first pitch.