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Nats adjust rotation with Doug Fister now off disabled list

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Nats adjust rotation with Doug Fister now off disabled list

Doug Fister returned to the Nationals' rotation on Thursday for his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list and, as a result, adjustments were made to their pitching staff.

The Nats' scheduled starters will now be pushed back a day with rookie Joe Ross pitching on Friday, Max Scherzer on Saturday and Gio Gonzalez on Sunday. And, though manager Matt Williams avoided specifics when discussing the corresponding move, it appears Tanner Roark is headed back to the bullpen.

"It just means everybody gets pushed. Fister takes his spot. It's like an off-day in the grand scheme of it. Everybody gets pushed a day," Williams said.

Right-hander Taylor Hill was sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Fister, who rejoins the team after missing over a month with a right forearm strain.

Fister made seven starts this season before going on the DL after an outing against the Padres in San Diego. He is 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA on the year.

Williams cited Roark's attitude and versatility as making transitions like this easy for the coaching staff.

"It's certainly a luxury to know that Tanner can do all of those things. If do have an issue like we do with Doug or with [Stephen Strasburg], then he inserts back into the rotation and can do great and pitch well for us," he said.

"I think [his mentality] is the overriding factor. He just doesn't care. If it's an inning, he's ready to pitch that inning. If it's three, he's ready for that. And if it's a start, he's ready for that. He enjoys the opportunity to pitch whatever that is and whenever that is. He's proven that he can handle all of it."

Williams said he does not anticipate any pitch count or innings restrictions for Fister, who started twice in his recently completed minor league rehab assignment. Fister pitched 9 2/3 innings between Triple-A Syracuse and Double-A Harrisburg, allowing one earned run on nine hits and no walks.

"I'm sure there will be questions to him in between innings. 'Are you feeling okay?' ... For me it's a health issue. Making sure he doesn't feel any tightness. As long as that's the case, then he's good to go. We'll monitor it through the game in that regard," Williams said.

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Max Scherzer was adamant Tuesday he would pitch for the Nats Wednesday night

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Max Scherzer was adamant Tuesday he would pitch for the Nats Wednesday night

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer now owns blue, brown and black eyes.

Scherzer -- who has heterochromia, resulting in one blue and one brown eye -- also now has bruising under his right eye after fouling a practice bunt attempt into his face Tuesday. He left Nationals Park on Tuesday with a splint across his broken nose, a clean CT scan and adamant he would be pitching later Wednesday.

Whether Scherzer pitches the second game of a split day-night doubleheader Wednesday is to be determined. He was still asleep, which is normal for his game-day routine, when manager Davey Martinez spoke to reporters Wednesday morning at 11. So, the last the Nationals knew, the expectation was for Scherzer to be ready for Wednesday night.

“I am convinced right now Scherzer is going to pitch the second game, and we’ll go from there,” Martinez said.

The Nationals have not played baseball since Sunday. Patrick Corbin was supposed to start Monday and Tuesday before those games were snuffed out by rain following lengthy delays. Corbin started the first game on Wednesday.

If Scherzer cannot pitch the second, Erick Fedde or Austin Voth will. Voth was brought in from Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday to be the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader. He had a laborious trip to get to the District: Voth left Fresno on a 6 a.m. flight with a connection in Salt Lake City. He missed it because his first flight was delayed by weather and mechanical problems. He was rerouted to Detroit -- which took him out of first class and put him into a middle seat in coach -- then eventually landed in Washington. His baseball bag made the whole journey. His personal bag did not.

The Nationals hope they don’t have to use Voth as a starter. He could fill three roles: relief in the first game, starter in the second or relief in the second. He is likely to pitch somehow Wednesday in order to protect the other bullpen members during a stretch of six games in five days (should Mother Nature finally relent).

So, the Nationals are waiting on a call from Scherzer to map everything out. He’s expected to ring the team’s head trainer, Paul Lessard when he arises. The team is concerned about possible breathing complications for Scherzer both prior to and while pitching after Scherzer left the stadium with a splint across his damaged nose on Wednesday. Martinez was not sure if his $210 million right-hander would wear the splint if he pitches in a game.

What the Nationals do know is they have run into another odd situation during a strange year. A bad start, a manager on the hot seat, a recent rally toward relevancy, then back-to-back rainouts against a key opponent with an ace’s broken nose mixed in. Several players wore black “Stay in the fight” T-shirts which were draped across their clubhouse chairs when they walked in Wednesday morning. That slogan applied to Scherzer’s mentality on Tuesday night.

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Max Scherzer a game-time decision to pitch Wednesday after breaking nose in batting practice, Mike Rizzo says

Max Scherzer a game-time decision to pitch Wednesday after breaking nose in batting practice, Mike Rizzo says

After two consecutive rainouts, the Nationals are scheduled for a doubleheader Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Max Scherzer is slated to pitch one of those games, but after breaking his nose during batting practice Tuesday, Scherzer will be a game-time decision according to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.

“‘We’ll see when he arrives today if he’s capable of pitching tonight," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday morning.

Following his hit in the face while attempting to bunt during BP, Scherzer also underwent a CAT scan to be sure there were no further injuries other than the broken nose.

Rizzo said he saw Scherzer Tuesday night and reported he had a bandage and splint on his nose but was breathing "fairly normally." However, swelling from a broken nose typically spreads to the eye region, which could potentially deter Scherzer's start.

“We’ll see if that curtails his ability to start or not," Rizzo said. 

Rizzo said Scherzer will be a game-time decision.

“I think we’ll see what happens when he wakes up today," Rizzo said.

The Nationals are set for a split day-night doubleheader against the Phillies Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05.

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