October 23, 2014

Fister eager to join Nationals’ rotation

Less than 24 hours after he was acquired by the Washington Nationals, starting pitcher Doug Fister spoke with the Washington media and expressed his eagerness to join the Nats and the rotation already in place.

“Coming from Detroit, obviously we had a great staff,” Fister started. “It was such an honor to be a part of the staff that we had there with Scherzer and Verlander and everybody else, but coming in to D.C. now, it’s going to be the same thing with [Stephen] Strasburg and [Jordan] Zimmermann and [Gio] Gonzalez and [Ross] Detwiler. All those guys, I’m looking forward to being in there. They’ve all got quite a bit of experience, they’ve all got great stuff and I’ve heard that they’re great teammates. It’s one of those things that I’m definitely looking forward to being a part of and being able to be surrounded by such terrific pitchers.”

He expressed only mild surprise that it was him getting traded, and not one of the other Tigers’ starters as had been rumored. The Tigers on Tuesday announced a two-year, $20 deal with closer Joe Nathan, so part of the money they saved on Fister went right back out the door on Nathan.

“It’s definitely a surprise when you get the phone call that lets you know you’re being traded,” Fister explained. “But it’s always, you’re a world of mixed emotions. There’s friendships and brotherhood and everything that I’ll be leaving, but I’m thoroughly excited to be heading to the Nationals. It’s one of those things that I’ve come to realize that I want to know a lot of guys in the league and have some experiences to play in the NL, play in the AL and be able to have those experiences and be able to have the relationships that we have. I’m looking forward to being able to get to know those guys.”

Fister mentioned that shortstop Ian Desmond has already reached out to him, and that’s he’s excited to be joining a playoff-ready team, considering the success the Tigers have had in the last couple of seasons.

“There’s a lot of excitement for me. I was able to talk to [General Manager Mike] Rizzo and I was able to talk to [Manager] Matt [Williams] and I know just talking to them, there’s a lot of excitement on their end, but there’s a lot of excitement for me, knowing the teammates that I’m going to be playing with this year, knowing the coaches and everyone that’s involved in not only that, but the ballpark, the fans, everybody that’s involved. It’s a big league ball club that is right on the right track to being in the postseason. I see it, I’m excited to be a part of it, and hopefully that’s exactly where we take it this year.”

The veteran pitcher, who has spent his entire career in the AL to this point, didn’t think the change in legaues would affect the way he pitches.

“When I’m up on the mound, I’m going to do the same thing and try to get hitters out. I know that obviously things are a little different having to face pitchers and having to hit ourselves. I’m excited to be able to grab a bat again and work on my swing. I don’t think that that’s going to change anything of my pitching style. I’m still going out there trying to pitch to our defense. Look at the defense that will be playing out there day after day after day. I think we’ve got a couple Gold Glovers and a runner-up. Again, it’s something for me, I’m coming in looking at it as, I’m blessed. I’m blessed to have a team that is on the rise and right where it needs to be. It has a great defense, a great offense. I’d be foolish not to use them. I’m looking forward to having that defense.”

Fister annually is in the top ten in ground ball rate and ground ball-to-fly ball ratio. He was asked how much of a focal point it is in his preparation.

“It’s definitely a bullet point in my pitching perspective,” he said. “I’m going out there trying to induce groundballs, induce bad contact as early in the count as possible. My job is to get through seven innings and keep zeroes on the board for our offense to get out there and swing it. If I can get that done, that’s my main focus. If I can get past that, that’s icing on the cake and I’m excited about it. But it’s one of those things, I want to get groundballs. I want to use our defense, utilize the talent that we have out there. That’s always been one of my main goals. For me, I’d be foolish not to attack that way. My main pitching sequence is a sinker. I try to attack with that.”

Finally, Fister was asked about his reputation. He’s in the top ten in WAR for starters the past three seasons, yet he’s never been an All-Star and had generally flown under the radar attention-wise.

“I’m not real positive on that. It’s a matter of I like to get out there, I like to pitch and leave all the assumptions and any sort of expectations to everybody else. I like to leave those kind of things alone and let somebody else take those by the reins.”

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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