Feb 21, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
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.
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