Mason Thompson and his electric fastball make Nationals return

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Mason Thompson and his electric fastball make Nats return originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — Right-hander Mason Thompson made his return from a nearly three-month rehab of a bicep injury Friday against the Miami Marlins, flashing the high-powered fastball that enticed the Nationals to acquire him at the trade deadline last summer.

Thompson, 24, suffered the injury during the Nationals’ season-opening series with the New York Mets in April. He landed on the 10-Day IL after making just two appearances and shifted over to the 60-Day IL when Washington selected the contract of Carl Edwards Jr. on May 10. He was originally slated to make a pair of back-to-back rehab appearances this weekend with Triple-A but felt good enough to get back to D.C. early.

“It feels good,” Thompson said of being back in the clubhouse before the Nationals’ 6-3 loss to Miami. “I think it took a while to get back but happy to be back and feeling good, feeling strong, feeling healthy. So it’s great to be back and be around the guys and I’m excited to get going.”

Manager Davey Martinez didn’t wait long to get Thompson some work, sending him out for the top of the ninth to face the middle of the Marlins’ lineup. He worked around a Jesús Aguilar bloop single to retire the side in 18 pitches (14 strikes).

Thompson’s two-seam fastball/sinker averaged 96.9 mph and topped out at 97.8. He threw eight of the game’s 10 fastest pitches recorded by Statcast and the despite the fastball having plenty of movement, he managed to keep most of them in the zone.

“His fastball was coming out, sinking ball well,” Martinez said in his postgame press conference. “His slider was better. It’s something we talked to him about, not afraid to throw it and that was good to see.”

The slider was a pitch Thompson worked on throughout his rehab, including his appearances with Triple-A Rochester. He only threw four in the outing Friday, but the Nationals hope he can develop both the slider and a curveball that he’s been throwing in bullpen sessions to prevent hitters from sitting on his fastball.

In order to make room on the roster for Thompson, the Nationals designated left-hander Sam Clay for assignment. Clay, 29, had a 6.02 ERA across 64 appearances for Washington the last two seasons.