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Nats Park “feels like home” to Fister in D.C. debut

May 21, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

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It’s been something of an odd, nomadic existence so far for Doug Fister. He was traded to the Nationals five months ago, but all of his time to date had been spent away from his new home.

Fister spent the spring in Viera, Fla., with the rest of his teammates, then stayed there after landing on the disabled list with a lat strain to open the season. He worked his way back to make a few minor-league rehab starts, then made his first two starts for the Nationals on the other side of the country, in Oakland and Phoenix.

So last night’s outing at Nationals Park carried some more significance for Fister. At long last, he got a chance to pitch off the mound in his team’s ballpark, in front of his team’s fans.

“It’s funny, but it feels like home,” he said after helping lead the Nats to a 9-4 win over the Reds. “Everybody makes it such a family atmosphere, especially with the club that we have, the teammates we have. Yeah, it’s my first one here, but it feels like I’ve pitched here before. That’s a comforting feeling.”

Fister actually had pitched at Nationals Park twice before, in 2011 while with the Mariners and last season while with the Tigers. This, though, was different.

Certainly the results were pleasing to the crowd of 26,455. Picking up where he left off in Arizona last week, the right-hander tossed seven strong innings, allowing just two runs on six hits and one walk.

Having spent the last month building his arm up following the DL stint, Fister now is on par with everyone else in the rotation. He threw 109 pitches last night, 72 of them strikes.

“We pushed him a little bit tonight to get him through his last inning, but he looked good,” manager Matt Williams said. “So nothing lasting from the injury. I think he’s well on the way to getting back into the swing of things. He pitched really well.”

After a shaky debut in Oakland, Fister has very much looked like himself his last two times out, allowing three total runs over 14 innings. He has issued only one walk in 18 1/3 total innings, striking out 13.

And he’s working fast, keeping his teammates on their toes, something they very much appreciate.

“That’s what you want as a defender: a guy that’s quick,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “On the other side of the coin, as a hitter, that’s really what you don’t want. So that’s great. Hopefully the rest of the guys can take note and learn from him and apply some things. It helps out the offense, too.”

Speaking of offense, Fister did has part to help the cause there as well. A gifted all-around athlete and former college first baseman, he reached base in the bottom of the third, then scored all the way from first base on Denard Span’s single-plus-error. He later put down a perfect sacrifice bunt.

“I know I have a job to do,” he said. “I’m No. 9 in the lineup, and I have to go out there and handle the bat. That’s something we take seriously as pitchers. We have fun, but we get to go out there and participate and be a big part of the game.”

At the end of the night, he did exactly what the Nationals expected him to do. And what those who have watched him throughout his career know he can be expected to do over the long haul.

“The gun doesn’t say he’s throwing that hard, but with his height and his angle, it’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Span, who faced Fister often in the American League. “And with his angle, the ball’s moving very good. Tonight he was able to just do what he does. I watched him in Detroit and also Seattle do that a lot.

“He’s one of those guys where, you go back to the dugout just shaking your head. I don’t want to say you think he’s not that good, but you go back and look at the video and you realize that ball moved four or five inches. That’s just what he does. He hits his spots.”

  1. David Proctor - May 21, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Chris Russo and Charlie Slowes are apparently feuding now.

    • 6ID20 - May 21, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      Who cares about Chris Russo? He’d feud with himself if there wasn’t anyone else around.

      • adcwonk - May 21, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        What’s the feud about? I have no idea who Russo is, but I’d still bet that 95 times (at least) out of 100 that Slowes is right ;-)

    • Section 222 - May 21, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      What’s the feud about?

  2. 6ID20 - May 21, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Speaking of homes, someone is going to lose his home in the bullpen tonight to make room for Treinin. Who will it be? Detwiler would seem to have been digging his own grave with his performances of late. Everyone else, including Mattheus, has been pitching very well. The Detwiler Project has to end eventually. It’s inevitable. Could it be tonight’s the night?

    • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Why? Wouldn’t the Nats prefer to keep Treinen stretched out in AAA, and have him learn an offspeed pitch?

      • David Proctor - May 21, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        Treinan is starting for Gio, who is on the DL. We’re carrying an extra bullpen arm. Hence, someone has to go.

      • 6ID20 - May 21, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        Treinin is starting tomorrow against the Bucs in Gio’s place.

  3. Danny - May 21, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    Keep it up Doug. Important cog in our season.

  4. scnatsfan - May 21, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    With no options Det is going nowhere unless traded, which might be best for all involved right now. We don’t know what goes on or is said behind the scenes but, from the numbers and what we see, Det doesn’t appear to handle this role well. Don’t tell me there aren’t some MLB teams that would love to stretch him out and give him a chance as their #5.

    • 6ID20 - May 21, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      When (not if) they DFA him, those teams will be free to put in a waiver claim on him and try to work out a trade.

    • jd - May 21, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      If you are a lefty and you throw mid 90’s you will get a job. I happened to think that as a starter and with his lack of secondary pitches he will always be bottom of the rotation and mediocre. He has the attributes to be a good reliever but no results so far. I wouldn’t be so anxious to dump him for nothing though because he may still have some decent trade value particularly if he strings together some decent appearances.

  5. natsguy - May 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    Love Fister, Roark, and Stammen. All pitch quick, attack the zone, and are bulldogs. Outstanding. JZim, Gio, and Strasburg could learn to pitch from those three.

    • Section 222 - May 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      Not sure why you wouldn’t group JZim with the bulldog/quick workers…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        Agreed. ALR was very complimentary of JZim when ALR was in the MASN booth.

      • natsguy - May 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Because he’s not. He is only a bulldog when things are working Ok. As an example his little meltdown when he kept staring at Lobaton and ended up leaving a little early. He used to be a bulldog but seems to have changed a little in personality this year. Been listening to Strasburg too much.

      • masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Actually, all five of the Nats starters are quick workers, as judged by time between pitches.

      • Section 222 - May 21, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        Is there a site with average time between pitches? That would be interesting to see, particularly to compare Storen this year with Storen in Game 5 and early last year.

  6. masterfishkeeper - May 21, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Dave Schoenfeld’s take on Cueto last night:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/47474/regression-monster-bites-johnny-cueto

    • adcwonk - May 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      More than anything, that article implies (without saying) that the Nats really took advantage. Cueto only gave up six hits, all singles.

      OTOH, 2 HBP and all those errors . . . .

      But, still, the Nats took advantage.

    • chaz11963 - May 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      The article seems to imply Cueto didn’t pitch all that bad and that the Nats got some fortunate help from the Reds poor defense. Schoenfeld, who initially picked the Nats to win the NL East, has been on the Nats lately.

  7. David Proctor - May 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    For those asking about the Russo/Slowes feud:

    At the end of Russo’s show the other day, he bashed Charlie’s call of Werth robbing the HR against the Mets. He called it an “atrocious call” and laid into Charlie. Charlie happened to be waiting to go on air with MLB Network on the show that follows Russo’s, so he heard Russo laying into him in his earpiece. So yesterday, Charlie went on the radio yesterday and said:

    “I guess they can’t fill an hour with his great content, and [so] it’s five minutes less of his hysterical illiterate screaming — which is his thing, which is unlistenable for me,” Slowes said in part. “For one second, could he do what we do every day? And better still, if he was doing it, would anyone comprehend a single word of what he’s saying?”

    Russo didn’t take kindly to this and spent SEVEN MINUTES on his show talking about it.

    “Before you say I’m unlistenable on MLB Network, go look at the ratings. Go look at ‘em. Go look at the ratings. Go look at the little book and pick up the ratings. Charlie, take it easy. Take it easy, all right? And listen, the audience doesn’t care, but if you want to start a little war, I’ll be very happy to start it. I’ll start any war you want. If that’s what you want, you want to go out there and fight this day to day, I will dissect every word of those play-by-play calls, and we’ll be playing ‘em every Monday, if that’s what you want. So calm down. A New Yorker can’t be that sensitive. Can’t be that sensitive.”

    • Section 222 - May 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      What an outrageous jerk. I’m very sorry he’s getting good ratings because that means he’ll probably get to keep his show. Ugh.

      • pdowdy83 - May 22, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        The only people who have to claim good ratings are really the ones with an inferiority complex and have to put things like that out just to make themselves feel better. I seriously doubt Russo will get another run with his show. For every person that watches him there are 2 or 3 that change the channel because all he does is scream and yell and blabber for his entire time slot… Yuck

      • Section 222 - May 22, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Hope you’re right. It would be nice to see Kristina Akra again. Hope she lands with a show that’s less offensive.

    • Section 222 - May 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      And thanks for the report DP. Where’d you get the transcript?

    • Candide - May 21, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Ugarte:You despise me, don’t you?
      Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

      I guess I’m supposed to care about this guy Russo.

      I’ve always thought that listening to Charlie and Dave call a game was an unalloyed pleasure.

      But now, thanks to Russo, I know I’ve been wrong – terribly wrong – all these years.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    “@AdamKilgoreWP: Matt Purke is getting a second opinion on his left elbow. http://t.co/nGSqPemMij

    Just when Purke started to show progress.

    • DaveB - May 21, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      Also, the article noted that Taylor Jordan got pulled after 3 innings with elbow soreness (they played it down as ‘no big deal’, but we’ve heard that before). Not a good day for Nats pitching prospects.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 21, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        No kidding. That really cuts into depth.

  9. natsfan1a - May 21, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I’d never heard of Russo either. Why do we care what he thinks? Yeah, dude, you have big ratings. Whatever. Size doesn’t matter, anyway. :-)

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