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Fister impresses in the field

Feb 21, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

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VIERA, Fla. — Obviously, you can tell a lot about a pitcher when you watch him throw off a bullpen mound. But you can also learn a lot about a guy when you watch how he performs far more mundane tasks in spring training, like fielding practice.

Watching the entire Nationals infield together for the first time Thursday morning, you couldn’t help but notice Doug Fister’s defensive prowess. While other members of the pitching staff fielded bunts with a perfectly acceptable amount of effort, Fister went through the drill as though he was in the middle of a late-September pennant race, not a mid-February spring practice.

The right-hander is quick to retrieve the ball. He puts himself in good position to make the play. And then he fires pinpoint throws to various bases, enough to create a little pop when it settles in, say, Ryan Zimmerman’s mitt.

Fister’s new manager noticed it, too.

“He’s impressive the way he goes about his business,” Matt Williams said. “He’s been probably the most impressive as far as the fundamentals have gone, too. I mean, it’s full-speed with everything he does.”

The 6-foot-8 Fister seems an unlikely candidate for “Most Athletic Pitcher on the Staff,” but he played first base at Merced College and has always embraced the idea of being a complete player.

“I did play a position in college, and I do kind of miss those days,” he said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”

Ken Rosenthal had an interesting piece this morning on the Fister trade, getting Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski’s explanation for a deal that baffled many people around the sport. Dombrowski, who clearly coveted lefty Robbie Ray, may prove right in the end. But the Nationals certainly are thrilled so far with what they received from Detroit.

  1. zmunchkin - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    Fence Post

    Overheard Livo mentoring Detwiler on throwing sliders to get more ground balls.

    • letswin3 - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Where’s the “LIKE” button?

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    When they said Hernandez was coming back as some sort of roving instructor I thought it was some sort of honorarium but stories since last week make it appear that he’s really contributing. I suppose he has a lot to contribute, especially for some of the younger pitchers. Detwiler definitely needs work on mixing his pitches. Maybe Hernandez can teach some of them the eephus pitch.

    • ArVAFan - Feb 21, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      When Gio was throwing bullpen, Livo was definitely watching and coaching him. Unfortunately, that portion of the conversation was in Spanish, so I don’t know what Livo told him, but based on their motions, it seemed to be about positioning the fingers while holding the ball. Of the 18 folks in the bullpen along with the P & C, only McCatty and Livo were interacting directly with the P & C.

    • zmunchkin - Feb 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      Livo was definitely coaching ‘em up yesterday and today based on what I saw.

  3. natinalsgo - Feb 21, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    From Kilgore: “Some lineup talk with Matt Williams. He made it clear that, while Harper could hit 5 some games, he’ll hit 2-3-4 as well.”

    Sounds like a clarification or some rethinking. Doesn’t make much sense to put Bryce in the 5 unless a lefty is pitching.

    After looking at those gawdy OBP stats for Harp with RISP, I think he bats 2nd or third but my concern is stacking 2 lefties 1-2. He’s been in an inefficient RBI man with RISP but is effective getting on base which screams out that he should bat 2nd followed by Werth and Ramos.

    Werth was 5th in the entire Majors in Runs Created/27 behind only Miggy, Trout, Davis and Votto.

    Ramos was the Nats #1 RBI/AB at .21 His problem is he’s not a run scorer because of his speed.

  4. natsfan1a - Feb 21, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    *like*

    Fister’s new manager noticed it, too.

    “He’s impressive the way he goes about his business,” Matt Williams said. “He’s been probably the most impressive as far as the fundamentals have gone, too. I mean, it’s full-speed with everything he does.”

    The 6-foot-8 Fister seems an unlikely candidate for “Most Athletic Pitcher on the Staff,” but he played first base at Merced College and has always embraced the idea of being a complete player.

    “I did play a position in college, and I do kind of miss those days,” he said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”

  5. chapjim - Feb 21, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    One of the things that amazed me over the winter was Mark’s ability to write something when there was nothing going on.

    It must be a tremendous relief to be able to pick what to write about instead of making something up.

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