"He will play as much as he feels that he needs," Williams said. "He would like to play seven innings, we would like him to play seven innings. He has worked up to that. If that goes well … we'll look beyond that the next day."
Center fielder Denard Span is also showing signs of making his return. He, too, played in two simulated games and will return to the team's Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., starting Thursday and play in Minor League games. Span will start by playing three innings in the first game, five innings in the next game, seven innings in the third and then have a day off.
Span, who is on the disabled list because of a torn abdominal muscle, could be back on the field by late April. Originally, he thought he would return to action some time in May.
"For Denard, he feels good about his running," Williams said. "Even when he wasn't feeling good at the start of spring, it was the running that bothered him, not necessarily the hitting. He was taking batting practice every day and playing in games [at the start of Spring Training].
"He feels good about going full out. He is running balls out there in the outfield during batting practice and doing all of his work. That's a very good sign. The next step is getting him in some ballgames."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.