Fister set to join Tigers rotation

May 7, 2012

DETROIT -- Welcome back, Mr. Fister.

After sitting out since leaving his first and only start of the season on April 7 with a left costochondral strain, Doug Fister will make his second debut of the season Monday night in Seattle.

No one is expecting Fister to do what he did when he arrived from Seattle at the trade deadline last season, which is to go 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA, but the Tigers will take anything close.

"I think it's going to be a huge lift for us," fellow starter Rick Porcello said. "Obviously he was outstanding last year when he came over. To have him back in the rotation, get some consistency going and try and build off of this series and have a good road trip, I'm excited."

Center fielder Austin Jackson echoed Porcello's words.

"We know what he's capable of when he gets back out there," Jackson said. "It's definitely a good thing for us. We have a lot of confidence in his ability and what he can do. We're looking forward to it."

Porcello and Jackson aren't the only ones who are excited about Fister's return.

"First and foremost, it's good to get back on the mound," Fister said after Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. "It's been a little bit of time on the DL and not being able to really contribute on the field. Then being in Seattle, it's going to be a nice time. Again, it's going to be the same game as normal and just attack and play the same game."

Fister said since his successful 68-pitch rehabilitation start in Toledo Wednesday, he has felt good and hasn't had any setbacks.

Now that he's physically at 100 percent, he expects to pitch the same way he always does.

"I prepared the same way I would as normal," Fister said. "I've gone about things just as I would normally. But like I said earlier, if there's any tentativeness, that's when trouble strikes. So you just gotta go with a full head of steam and just play ball."

Manager Jim Leyland didn't know exactly how long he'd let Fister go, but said he'd have to be careful with a slightly short bullpen.

"I'm going to have to play that one close," Leyland said. "It's probably not a good day to be without (Joaquin) Benoit and (Jose) Valverde but we probably will be, gotta watch those guys. It's a long haul and you've got to make sure you take care of them. (Phil Coke) Cokie's fresh and we've got (Luke) Putkonen down there, (Octavio) Dotel's fine so we'll be fine."

Benoit pitched Saturday and Sunday and Valverde pitched all three games of the White Sox series.

Although the Tigers (14-13) are 1 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians (15-11) in the Central Division and the offense has not broken out on a consistent basis yet, the starters have all been pitching well lately. Fister should fit very nicely into what the rotation has going.

"Guys are playing well right now," Fister said. "Obviously there's been a couple bounces that haven't gone our way at times but that's the game of baseball and that's why we come back every day. We're getting ready to go on a road trip right now and thing are rolling pretty well and guys are playing together. That's the main key."