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Low-key Fister tries to blend into Nationals rotation

Feb 14, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

Associated Press Associated Press

VIERA, Fla. — Doug Fister took his usual flight from Northern California to Orlando this week, prepared to embark on another spring training in the Grapefruit League. The only difference?

“It was basically: You pull out of Orlando airport and turn right instead of turn left,” he said.

After spending parts of the last three seasons with the Tigers, who train about 45 minutes west of Orlando in Lakeland, Fister now joins the Nationals, who train roughly 45 minutes east of Orlando in Viera. The similarities don’t end there. In Detroit, Fister was the quiet, unheralded member of a star-studded rotation. In Washington, he’ll find himself in a very similar situation.

That suits the right-hander just fine. Fister has never been one to seek the limelight, so he’s perfectly happy to blend right in behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

“That’s always been my personality,” he said. “I’ve always tried to kind of lie low and just try to put my nose to the grindstone and work. From Day 1, my father’s always instilled in me not to speak about it, just go out there and work hard and let your actions show what you’re all about. That’s my mentality and the mentality that I try to take out to the ballpark every day.”

Fister takes plenty of cues from his father, Larry, a former police officer and fire chief in their hometown of Merced, Calif., and has applied those lessons to his life in baseball.

“My dad started out as a police officer when I was young and was on the SWAT team,” he said. “They’d have practice, and I’d go hang out with them. I love shooting, but being able to watch how they communicate and work together, and how they approach certain situations. And the same thing as I grew up, he switched to the fire department. Hanging around the fire department, hanging around the guys, I started to understand what they’re all about.

“It’s the same idea as here, if somebody brings in their boys to watch how guys prepare every day and come into the ballpark. You teach by example, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Fister got his first taste of the camaraderie among the Nationals pitching staff Friday morning, hanging out in the clubhouse with Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and pitching coach Steve McCatty, who waited all of four seconds after meeting Fister for the first time to start hurling expletives his way.

Fister laughed it all off and looked forward to the time he’ll be spending with all of these new mates over the next six weeks.

“It is a very established group, and that’s one of the good things about coming here and this organization,” he said. “These guys have had a lot of success already. I don’t want to make any ruckus coming in. I want to come in and do my part, be a team player and help take this where we want to take it. I don’t foresee any sort of problem. These guys are great guys.”

  1. veejh - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Sounds like a solid teammate. I like his style. JZimmesque.

  2. David Proctor - Feb 14, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    I have to say, it’s refreshing how Rizzo continues to pick such good PEOPLE in addition to good players. Gone are the Elijah Dukes of the world. I can’t think of a single player who isn’t a class citizen. Even Soriano, who people love to rag on, does tons of charity work in his home country and is actually in army there.

    • RPrecupjr - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Like I said on a previous post….exactly why I had no interest whatsoever in AJ Burnout. We already have one whining, pouting guy who wants to do things his way and not the team’s way in Soriano.

  3. unkyd59 - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    For RealDeal: As per The Kilgore piece linked two threads ago, Re: Garcia’s 3 +pitches….

    ” He threw a high-90s fastball, a wicked changeup and a hissing slider.”

    If he throws those for strikes, he just needs to stay healthy. He won’t need another breaking ball (or whatever his other pitch is) to be available for any position in the ‘pen.

    • realdealnats - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:47 PM

      Thanks unkyd.

      And another reason I almost want Det in the pen. I’ve stuck up for him here for a couple years for #5, but a left hander with power like he has in the late innings sounds great to me. I know everyone sees him–if he’s in the pen–as a guy who will be a long lefty–but put a Blevin behind him on the BP left handed depth chart with Roark as #5 starter and I’m feeling even better. Cedeno and Solis to differing degrees of readiness backing up Det and Blevins in the minors as lefties.

      And Jordan filling in for Roark if anything happens as #5 starter–or Det can move over. Depth depth depth…

      But that’s great news that Garcia is healthy. A real windfall since none of us suspected this to be the case. But the proof will be in the eating of the pudding…

    • dgourds - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:36 AM

      The key for Garcia being “if he throws them for strikes”. In his 8 innings late last year, he threw 6 walks. But hopefully that was just rust. I loved what he did in ’12. In fact, the depth of having Garcia, Roark, Jordan and Det actually have me very optimistic about our bullpen in ’14. It could be almost as good as the Cards or Braves. The weak link, imo, is Soriano. I hope he proves me wrong in his walk year!

      • realdealnats - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        Agreed on Soriano. Like that he usually throws strikes, but wish he had more power to go with his coolness. Always feel like he’s going to blow the save with a walk and a couple singles.

  4. masterfishkeeper - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    The idea of a healthy Garcia, along with that analysis of Roarke’s success, has me giddy. I have to remember that we are still in February.

    • unkyd59 - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:49 PM

      Giddy is goody…. I’m right there with you!

  5. sjm308 - Feb 14, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    Having nothing to do with this post – On our second day of not having our street plowed, my Valentines day present was a Hobby Box of 2014 Topps Series 1 which kept me occupied for a good hour or so. I am a child of the 50′s whose mother did what all mothers did back then and threw out my beautiful collection of Topps cards from the 50′s as soon as I moved out in the 60′s. I still cry about that but when Kevin was born in 1980, there was a pack of Topps cards waiting for him in his crib.

    I have a wax/hobby box (unopened) of every Topps series 1 from 1980 until the present and also try and fill a set by opening a hobby box and then getting extra packs from my Target or the House of Cards in Silver Spring. In 2014 Mike Trout is the #1 card BUT Bryce Harper is #100 with Yu Darvish at #200 and Derek Jeter at #300. That tells me what star power our Bryce will carry into this year.

    The disappointment to me is that Ryan Zimmerman is not included in Series 1.
    The interesting thing to me is that WAR is now included on the back stats for each player
    Jason Werth’s card is neat with him in the dugout with Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon

    Looking forward to actually getting out into the world again tomorrow as we shoveled and the plow actually came by around 4:30 today.

    Go Nats!!

    • micksback1 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:40 AM

      Coach
      by chance, did you go to 50th ann of Beatles this past Tues?

  6. Sonny G 10 - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Wonder why Cat hurled expletives at Fister, Was he kidding around or serious?

    • Steady Eddie - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      Just Cat being Cat. Nothing personal.

      • realdealnats - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:50 PM

        Cat was feelin Pretty Freakin Bueno and wanted to spread it around

    • David Proctor - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      Sounds like they were just joking around.

  7. realdealnats - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:56 PM

    Just messing around pretending that Roark and Garcia will return to their 2013 and 2012 forms respectively, might we see:’

    Stras/Gio/JZimm/Fister/Roark

    Soriano/Storen/Clippard/Det/Stammen/Blevins/Garcia

    That could be some staff. Accent on “could be” I know.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:15 AM

      on paper, that looks great, even if you switch roark and det’s places for any reason.

      • realdealnats - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        True re Roark and Det switching for any reason. And Det my have a more positive influence as a starter lefty. for some odd reason, I just like the security of know we have a real left handed power arm in the BP for the 6th inning on who can probably over match most of the batters he’ll face for that inning(s). But I repeat myself…

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        detwiler does seem more suitable for relief. honestly despite that nice article, concerns regarding roark lingers. which is why burnett would have been great. anyways moving on from AJ, i hope our staff gets the job done.

  8. micksback1 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    as excited as I am about Roark, beware of sophomore slump.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    let’s say for arguments’ sake that fister and JZ perform similarly over the next two years. Who do you bring back for 2016 and later?

    • knoxvillenat - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Why not both?

      • realdealnats - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Yeah, bring back both. Continuity and depth. Although it would be a bump in salary, it is a known quantity and chemistry. The bigger waste, imo, would be to bring in slightly cheaper and have it fail or take a year or two to work. Keep this good thing rolling.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        working under the assumption that we can only bring back one.

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