3/14/2014 6:22 P.M. ET
Nats encouraging Jordan to use fastball more
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Taylor Jordan is considered a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he had a setback on Friday afternoon, allowing four runs in three innings during a 12-6 loss to the Tigers.
Jordan was able to get through the first two innings without a blemish, but the third inning proved to be a problem as he allowed RBI hits to Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos.
In that inning, Jordan also seemed to have a problem getting low strike calls by home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.
"I wasn't very pleased with my outing," Jordan said. "I wasn't locating pitches very well. I wasn't getting the low called strikes that I should have. A lot of those pitches were borderline strikes, and none of them were called. I kept the ball up a little bit. They hit me around a little bit."
Manager Matt Williams said Jordan was beat on breaking balls, and he has been encouraged by the team to be more aggressive with his fastball.
"We are going to continue to encourage him to use [the fastball], because it's a good one. The ball sinks in the low to mid-90s. He needs to use it," Williams said.
Fister feeling better after bullpen session
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Right-hander Doug Fister, who hasn't pitched since March 2 because of right elbow inflammation, had a bullpen session Friday morning without any problems.
Fister threw 25 pitches and, according to pitching coach Steve McCatty, he felt better than he did when he played catch the previous day. On Thursday, Fister felt tightness in the elbow, but it didn't help that it was cold that morning.
"He threw fastballs, a couple of curveballs and a couple of changeups," McCatty said about the bullpen session. "It's a positive sign. You have to be cautious and make sure he is fine. We'll see how he is tomorrow morning. Depending how he is, we'll see when we get him in a game."
Fister most likely will have a day off Saturday and then start throwing live batting practice before getting in a Minor League game.
Torii: Nats have 'something special' in Fister
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter has nothing but respect for Nationals right-hander Doug Fister. The two were teammates in Detroit last year and, according to Hunter, not only was Fister a workhorse on the mound, he was a great listener.
"I would give him the information as far as hitters, finances, family issues and everything like that," Hunter said. "We talked it up every day. He is such a great guy. He is unbelievable. He is one of the best personalities in the game."
Hunter was surprised when he heard that Fister is currently dealing with elbow inflammation, but he believes Fister will bounce back because of his work ethic. Hunter said Fister was a bulldog with the Tigers, with whom he won 14 games and pitched 208 2/3 innings last season.
"We are going to miss him," Hunter said. "He pitched well for us all year. He knows how to pitch. When this guy throws the ball, he throws the sinker, the cutter, he keeps you off balance. He creates a lot of ground balls. So we are going to miss him. It's as simple as that. The Nationals picked up something special. He wants the ball every inning, he wants the ball every fifth day. Trust me, it's going to be a lot of fun [watching him throw]."
Walters among players impressing Williams
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams said he is pleasantly surprised by certain players this spring, including infielder Zach Walters, who is playing multiple infield positions and was hitting .474 entering Friday's game against the Tigers.
First baseman Brock Peterson is another player who is having a nice spring, hitting .389.
"He has a short manageable swing," Williams said.
First baseman Tyler Moore was hitting .242, but clubbed a two-run home run Friday. Williams said before the game that he believes his bat is coming around.
"I think Tyler is really close," Williams said. "It's taking him a while to get going. His at-bats against the Mets [on Thursday] were really good. We'll continue to give him more and more [at-bats]."
Williams also likes reliever Aaron Barrett, who has pitched seven shutout innings and struck out five batters this spring.
"I like him a lot, especially the way he has handled the situations we put him in," Williams said.
• Nationals reliever Michael Gonzalez played in his first spring game Friday, pitching one inning and allowing two runs against the Tigers. He said he was glad to be on the mound and show the team that he is healthy.
"You don't want to give up runs, but overall, the way the shoulder feels, the way the arm feels, my rhythm, I feel like I'm back at it," Gonzalez said.
• Reliever Luis Ayala was hit hard on Friday, allowing five runs in two-thirds of an inning. After getting the first out, Ayala allowed five consecutive hits before getting what would prove to be his final out. He exited after allowing an RBI single to Nick Castellanos.
"He is doing what he is supposed to do. He is getting ground balls," Williams said. "Sometimes they don't hit it at somebody. Sometimes it gets through. We have confidence in him."
• Shortstop Ian Desmond (chest cold and cut pinky finger) was scheduled to start taking light swings to make sure his finger is in good shape.
• Ryan Zimmerman (body soreness) will either play against the Marlins or play in a Minor League game on Saturday.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.