The Washington Nationals know all too well that "elbow inflammation" can turn into something much worse.
However, they have given no induction that Doug Fister's elbow issue is that serious. The team's new right hander had an MRI and will rest for a few days, according to the Washington Post's James Wagner.
Fister told the club's new manager, Matt Williams, that he would have pitched through the issue if the team was in the regular season.
At this point, Fister's elbow isn't a serious concern for the Nationals, but they will presumably bring him along slowly through the relatively meaningless spring schedule.
The Nationals acquired Fister from Detroit this winter for Steve Lombardozzi and minor leaguers Robbie Ray and Ian Krol in a deal that has been widely commended -- at least for Washington. Over the last two seasons in the Tigers' rotation, the 30-year-old has pitched 3.57 ERA in 58 starts with excellent park-adjusted numbers. According to FanGraphs, Fister has been worth more than 15 wins since 2010, making him one of the most user-appreciated pitchers in the game.
If the Nats offseason prize misses any considerable time this season, Washington has a significant number of internal options to replace him. A combination of Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan could help the club bridge any gap Fister might leave if he hits the disabled list. Projected long reliever Ross Ohlendorf could also fill in since he has experience as a starter as well.
Since Fister's injury wouldn't have held him back if it had happened in April rather than March, it isn't likely to be a serious long-term issue. However, the Nationals will likely take the proper precautions to avoid a more significant problem.