Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment


Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment


SAN FRANCISCO -- Doug Fister is listed at 6'8." He is an extremely tall, thin, and leggy right-handed pitcher. He is built a lot like the A's Brandon McCarthy. On September 5, McCarthy, who stands just an inch shorter than Fister, was hit just above the right ear by a line drive off the bat of Eric Aybar that ended up fracturing his skull and forcing the pitcher into emergency brain surgery. The traumatic injury ended McCarthy's season and stimulated discussions about pitcher safety. In the second inning baseball got a frightening reminder of just how vulnerable pitchers are while on the mound when Fister was struck on the top of the head by a liner off the bat of Gregor Blanco. Fortunately for Fister, it was a glancing blow that didn't hit flush. He never left his feet and after a mound visit from his coaches, trainers, and umpires he remained in the game.
RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page "I was really afraid," catcher Gerald Laird said. "That's a scary moment. A line drive off someone's head, I mean you've seen what happened to McCarthy and the damage it did. You don't want to lose a teammate like that."Laird said that when everyone approached the mound to check on Fister he answered all the standard concussion questions before they were asked. The manner in which Fister handled the situation turned the moment from terrifying to humorous."I don't want to make light of it but it was pretty comical really because Doug was right on with everything," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said. "But I was scared to death when it happened." "He sounded just like Fisty always sounds," Laird said. "He goes 'I know where we're at. We're in the second inning. We're in Game 2 against San Francisco.'"
RATTO: Giants follow big win with small win for 2-0 leadFister got extremely lucky. If that ball was one inch lower things could have been very different. The Tigers ended up laughing it off. Fister said there wasn't any pounding or lingering pain in his head after the ball struck him. He says there hasn't been any kind of tests. He even held the door to the clubhouse open for the media after the game "I'm not concerned I've got a minor bump," Fister said. "According to my dad my whole life, his saying has always been if I got hit in the head I'm okay." Somehow, the ball that ricocheted off the top of his head altered his evening for the better. Fister retired 13 of the next 16 batters he faced. He only allowed two hits after the incident. He was riding on pure adrenaline."For me it's just a mindset," Fister said. "You are not going to take me out of the game."The Tigers' pitcher has been nearly unhittable in this postseason. It's no wonder why. Every pitch in his arsenal breaks, bends, and dives through the strike zone. Fister hadn't allowed a run since the seventh inning of the ALDS against Oakland, totaling 12 13 scoreless innings. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh and left the game. He was charged with an earned run when the Giants scored on a double play with the bases loaded and reliever Drew Smyly on the mound. For Fister, a Merced native that attended Fresno State, this start was easily the biggest and most special of his career. He took the mound with family and friends watching. A lifelong Giants fan, it wasn't long ago he was sitting in the stands watching the Giants play alongside those same friends and family members. Hopefully they won't be too angry with him after dealing against their favorite team. Despite Fister's best efforts, Detroit was held scoreless and the Giants ended up winning 2-0. Their big opportunity to get on the board was thwarted in the second inning when Prince Fielder was thrown out at home while trying to score from first on a Delmon Young double. The Giants executed a perfect relay -- Gregor Blanco, to Marco Scutaro, to Buster Posey, who tagged Fielder on the backside just before his foot brushed across home plate."I saw the ball go off the wall and I looked back at him and he sent me so I was ready to run," Fielder said of third base coach Gene Lamont's decision to wave him home. Fielder added that he argued the call at the plate because he didn't feel the tag. As the play unfolded all he was thinking about was trying to be safe. He wasn't. The Giants also robbed the Tigers of a run when Pablo Sandoval made a leaping catch to stop what would have been an RBI double in the fourth inning. "Seems like things aren't' falling right now, we just have to continue to battle and keep swinging it," Laird said. "The good thing is we get to go home now and play in our home park where we've played our best baseball all year. I like our chances." In the end, Detroit's hitters had no answers for Madison Bumgarner who threw seven shutout innings of two-hit ball. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Bumgarner is the first pitcher since Bruce Hurst in 1986 to throw 15-plus scoreless innings in his first two World Series appearances. Jim Leyland's Tigers are in deep trouble. They head home down 0-2 to the Giants in the Fall Classic. Even if the Tigers can survive the next three games in The Motor City, the series will be decided in San Francisco.

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

TEMPE, Ariz. — Rather than join his minor league teammates for workouts like usual, Logan Shore got word Tuesday morning he would take the ball for the A’s against the Los Angeles Angels.

A few hours later, Shore was striking out Mike Trout to highlight his impressive four-inning outing. What an experience it was for Shore, a right-hander drafted last summer in the second round out of the University of Florida.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s not really any words to describe that.”

The A’s scratched No. 5 starter Raul Alcantara, opting to throw him in a minor league game rather than let a division opponent get another look at him for scouting-report purposes. That presented Shore with a surprise opportunity.

He responded with four innings of one-run ball, holding the Angels to two hits. The game would take an ugly turn as the A’s bullpen got lit up in a 14-3 loss. But Shore’s outing was a glimpse of what Oakland might have to look forward to with the 22-year-old. The righty didn’t come out of college with the same hype as Florida teammate A.J. Puk, who the A’s drafted sixth overall last June. But he’s thought to be more polished than Puk at this stage.

Shore went 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts with short-season Vermont in his pro debut. This spring, he’s been grouped with high Single-A Stockton, but he hasn’t received his official regular-season assignment yet.

“That’s the kind of lineup that gets your attention a little bit,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I thought he threw the ball really well. He had great command of his fastball, a backdoor sinker, good changeup, good slider. He probably got a little bit tired at the end, but he was very impressive. That’s the first time I got to see him throw.”

Shore pitched in relief for the A’s earlier this spring as a minor league extra, so that helped him keep his nerves in check Tuesday. Still, it was a different challenge tackling what closely resembled the Angels’ regular-season lineup, which features Trout and Albert Pujols in the meat of it.

Trout struck out and flied to right against Shore. Pujols flied to right and singled.

“I grew up watching all those guys, so it’s kind of cool to get to pitch against them,” he said.

HEALTH UPDATES: Left fielder Khris Davis and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, both nursing minor injuries, won’t return to the field until the Bay Bridge Series which starts Thursday night at AT&T Park, Melvin said. Plouffe has missed the past few games with a groin injury and Davis has a right quad issue.

“We’ll just bubble wrap them right now and send them home,” Melvin cracked.

Right-hander Chris Bassitt took another step in his Tommy John recovery with a 30-pitch session that included two sets of 15 pitches, simulating two innings with a break in between.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s play their Cactus League finale Wednesday on the road against the Cubs, but most of the game will feature minor leaguers. All of the players who are heading north to face the Giants will be leaving for the airport sometime in the latter stages of the game.

On that topic, the A’s announced the 43 players that will make up their Bay Bridge roster. It includes 30 players from the 40-man roster, six non-roster invitees and seven extras from minor league camp. Oakland officially has 36 players still in camp, with Saturday the deadline to cut down to the final 25-man roster.

ODDS AND ENDS: After Shore left the game, the Angels struck for five runs in the fifth against Liam Hendriks. … The next inning, highly touted prospect Grant Holmes gave up five runs (four earned) in two-thirds of an inning. Holmes was one of three righties acquired from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade. Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas were the others.


Revisiting the A's top 5 questions from the start of spring

Revisiting the A's top 5 questions from the start of spring

TEMPE, Ariz. — The A’s moving truck has already left the desert, and the team will be bolting for the airport after Wednesday’s Cactus League finale.

Spring training is quickly drawing to a close, with only the three-game Bay Bridge Series remaining before the games start to count. To mark that reality, here’s a look at the five most burning questions Oakland faced back when camp started in mid-February, and what kind of answers have materialized since …

1) Does Sonny Gray return to his old self?
The A’s absorbed their first major injury blow early when Gray, their potential Opening Night starter, went down with a strained lat muscle after a March 7 start. It wasn’t exactly what the right-hander had in mind coming off a 2016 season that sent him to the disabled list twice. Encouraging news came last week when Gray was allowed to start throwing again one week ahead of schedule.

When exactly he returns is tied to how soon he gets back on the mound. He’s been playing catch out to 105 feet, but manager Bob Melvin stressed the A’s aren’t going to rush things with Gray. Until further notice, the assumption is still that Gray will miss most of April.

2) Can a ‘healthy’ outlook be sustained?
Given what you read in the above item, obviously things haven’t gotten off to a great start in this department. Jake Smolinski, a candidate to make the team as an extra outfielder, showed up to camp with a sore right shoulder and required labrum surgery. Second baseman Joey Wendle, who was ticketed for Triple-A to begin with, also has been set back by a shoulder injury. But the focus, from an injury standpoint, is on Gray. If he were to miss just the first month of the regular season, that’s an absence the A’s should be able to cover. Any longer than that, and his presence really will be missed.

After last year’s roster-wide rash of injuries, better health is the most important first step in the A’s escaping the American League West cellar.

3) Who wins the closer’s job?
Six weeks of spring training has yet to reveal an answer here. If Melvin knows who his closer is, he isn’t saying publicly. Lefty Sean Doolittle, one of the veteran anchors of the relief corps, said Melvin hasn’t discussed roles yet with the relievers themselves. Expect more news on that during the Bay Bridge Series, which runs Thursday through Saturday. Of the four assumed ninth-inning candidates — Doolittle, John Axford, Santiago Casilla and Ryan Madson — none has been lights-out in Cactus League games.

The guess here is Madson, the A’s main closer last season, gets the first crack at the role this year as well.

“I don’t even think it’s on anybody’s radar,” Doolittle said Tuesday. “That’s one of the things that makes our bullpen effective. We’re not as attached to those roles as people might think.”

4) Where does Ryon Healy fit into the puzzle?
He fits in a little at first base, a little at third base and a little at DH. What we know is that Healy’s bat will be in the lineup regularly, it’s just a matter of where. Melvin spread his time pretty evenly between all three spots. Healy responded with a terrific spring at the plate. Entering Tuesday, he ranked third in the Cactus League with 16 RBI, the most spring RBI by an Athletic since Kevin Kouzmanoff also had 16 in 2010. Healy will play first base against lefties, platooning with Yonder Alonso. He’ll spell Trevor Plouffe at third. But it stands to reason a large chunk of his time will have to come at DH.

“I think he’s handled it well,” Melvin said. “It’s not easy, especially for a younger guy that was originally a first baseman. He worked as hard as anybody last year to make himself a third baseman. Now, it’s a little bit different for him and he knew that coming into camp. I think he’s handled his time wisely, worked hard at both positions, and he knows he has to move around a little bit this year.”

5) Can the A’s get their mojo back?
If a positive clubhouse vibe plays any part in a team turning around its on-field fortunes, the A’s are off to a good start. The early indications are that newcomers Plouffe, Matt Joyce, Casilla and Rajai Davis — those latter two are in their second stints with the A’s — all add some nice leadership qualities and mesh well with the returning vets. True, you can’t really read too much in spring training, when everyone always gets along in the spirit and optimism of a new season. But the A’s do seem to have better components up and down their roster to lead to a healthier season-long chemistry.

Just as you’ve read in the past, getting off to a strong start in the standings is the most effective way to maintain that chemistry.