One day after being moved to the bullpen for the first time in his accomplished seven-year MLB career, Doug Fister addressed the media to discuss the transition.
Fister has accepted the move, but it was not easy, as one could understand.
"It's not the most fun message to go across. But you've gotta have a positive outlook on it and stay with it," Fister said. "It's one of those situations where it's not something you want to do, but I'm here to help the team win. That's what it comes down to, that's the bottom line. What I need to do is go out there pitch, execute and be better on the mound."
"It’s not easy but he handles it with professionalism and told us he’s ready to go whenever we need him," Matt Williams said. "He is about winning baseball games and providing what he can to our team. If that’s out of the bullpen, so be it. He’s ready to pitch at any given day, at any time. That’s the mark of a true pro."
Fister has made three relief appearances in his MLB career, all in different seasons. He has never been a reliever for an extended period of time, so with that change will come an adjustment in his routine.
"There is no schedule when it comes to the bullpen. That does make it a little more interesting when it comes to that. I just gotta stay on top of it," Fister said. "Whenever they call on the phone, it's just a matter of being ready. That's not a problem for me, I can do that."
Fister says he is healthy and is encouraged by his recent outings, despite the fact he holds a 4.60 ERA on the season through 15 starts. Those numbers are far from what he produced in 2014 when he finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting and held a 2.41 ERA.
This is all coming in a contract year for Fister, who will be a free agent after this season. It is a deep free agent class of starting pitchers and Fister moving to the bullpen certainly does not help his cause.
Whether he returns to the rotation this season or not, Fister will try to focus on the task at hand.
"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "For me, it's just a matter of taking things day by day. Whatever happens, things are out of your control. What I can control is I can go out there and execute. That's all I can control. If the phone rings tonight and my name is called, I'll be ready."
Going to the bullpen in lieu of rookie Joe Ross continuing to start is a tough development for Fister. But he understands it could be worse and he still appreciates the opportunity to remain on the roster with the ability to impact games.
"For me, once I'm on the mound, I'm on the mound. It doesn't matter if I'm starting a game or relieving in a game, it doesn't matter. Once the ball is in your hand, it's time for business," he said.