ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Doug Fister had a positive exhibition finish in preparation for his first regular-season start, against the New York Yankees.
Fister gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings for the Detroit Tigers in a 3-3 tie with the Tampa Bay Rays in the exhibition finale for both teams on Saturday.
“I thought he pitched really well,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He commanded much better. Used his pitches, changed speeds.”
Fister, scheduled to pitch the Tigers’ home opener Friday, had four strikeouts. Brayan Pena hit a two-run homer in the fifth off reliever Jamey Wright.
“It’s another step in the right direction for me,” Fister said. “I felt like today was much better timing wise and just that feel, working on a few pitches here and there. Just trying to get fine-tuned ready for six days from now.”
The right-hander entered with 6.52 ERA over his previous six spring training games.
Matt Moore allowed one hit, one walk and struck out five in four scoreless innings for the Rays.
“That’s what he’s supposed to look like, that’s what he can look like,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “As he regains his confidence, you’ll see that on a more consistent basis.”
James Loney connected in the fifth inning and Ryan Roberts in the sixth against Fister.
Tampa Bay hosts Baltimore in its regular-season opener Tuesday. The Tigers start the new season Monday at Minnesota, where temperatures are expected to be in the 30’s.
“We’re going to get a little shock when we get off the plane in Minnesota,” Leyland said about the cold weather. “You don’t think it is, you’re crazy. So, makes no sense to make a big deal about it. I’m just happy today, we got through this game, knock on wood, injury free. A good, quick game, really. Nice crowd. It worked out good. The guys are all ready to go.”
Rays designated hitter Luke Scott will start the season on the disabled list due a strained right calf. He could return in two to three weeks.
“I’m making progress every day,” Scott said. “It’s very disappointing, but I’ve been down this road before. From what I hear and what I see, it’s not serious.”
Maddon said he enjoyed the just completed spring training, but won’t miss his alarm clock going off at 6 a.m.
“I’m looking forward to just moving it back a bit,” Maddon said.
Maddon is in favor of teams playing night games during the final week of the exhibition season.
“If somehow we could come together as a group and just maybe play all night games … if you’re into night games, play them at the end,” Maddon said. “Start flipping the internal clock a little bit as a group towards the end as opposed to going back and forth.”
Before the game, Leyland addressed Friday’s announcement that the Tigers and ace Justin Verlander had agreed to an $180 million, seven-year contract, calling it a great situation for the right-hander, the team and the fans.
“He’s been with the Tigers for going on his eighth year,” Leyland said. “Conceivably (be here) 15 years, or maybe 16. That’s pretty much a whole career. That’s got a nice ring to it. We’re very fortunate to have an owner that steps up to the plate, and very fortunate to have players that want to play here.”
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