Doug Fister certainly seems ready to return to the Detroit Tigers' rotation based on his performance in the Mud Hens' 5-3 victory Wednesday night over Pawtucket at Fifth Third Field.
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Fister limited the Red Sox to two hits and a walk in four innings while striking out five. His command of all of his pitches was good as he needed just 68 pitches -- 44 of which were strikes -- to shut down the Red Sox.
But Fister said afterwards those numbers weren't the keys to evaluating his performance.
"The goal was to come in here, do things as normal as possible and just kind of test things out," Fister said. "[I was] just getting ready to go back and make pitches.
"I went out there and pitched how I normally would pitch -- I was just reacting to hitters and what's working for me."
Pitching in front of audience that included Tigers manager Jim Leyland and several members of Detroit's coaching staff, Fister gave up only two hard-hit balls in his four innings. Daniel Nava lined a one-out double off the wall in left in the first inning -- Fister responded by striking out the next two hitters -- and the final batter he faced, Josh Kroeger, hit a line drive that Eric Patterson flagged down with a fine running catch.
"Being able to keep the ball down was the main key for me," Fister said. "I was throwing the sinker and the changeup.
"But I was trying to get all the pitches in, get all the work in, really trying to focus on throwing the cutter a little bit more. [I also was working on] getting back in the mental game of things too."
The only negative was Fister's velocity, which included a fastball that never touched 90 mph.
"I never question what my velocity is," he said. "I never know what it is. We really don't keep track of that one.
"For me anyway, it's just kind of a mind game that I don't play. I go out there and rely on location of the baseball and the movement of it and whatever the velocity is, that's what it is. "I felt like I made some quality pitches with [good] location."
Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin agreed.
"I think the one thing the whole organization was looking for was that he was healthy and got through it," Nevin said of Fister. "He knows that in five days he can go out and pitch for the Tigers.
"He throws a lot of strikes and isn't afraid to pitch to anybody. He has good movement on his fastball and wasn't afraid to pitch in."
The Hens jumped in front in the first inning when Ryan Strieby launched a Ross Ohlendorf pitch well over the scoreboard in left for a two-run home run, his fourth of the year,
The Hens added a two runs in the second on a two-run single by Justin Henry, and a sacrifice fly by Omir Santos plated a run in the third.
The only scare for Toledo came in the fifth, when Pawtucket scored three runs on a solo home run by Nate Spears and a two-run triple by Nava.
But Zach Miner, Jose Ortega and Chris Bootcheck allowed just two of the 16 hitters they faced to reach base to close out the victory, with Ortega getting the win at Bootcheck earning his fifth save.
NOTES: OF Jerad Head broke a bone in his hand while swinging at a pitch in Tuesday's game and will be placed on the disabled list. … The Tigers have signed OF Jeff Frazier to a minor league contract and will send him to Toledo to replace Head. Frazier hit .273 with three home runs and 14 RBIs with Reynosa in the Mexican League this season. …The Mud Hens have removed Jason Griffin from the position of public relations director. Griffin will remain as one of the club's radio/television announcers.