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'Slow starter' Fister sharper despite walks

'Slow starter' Fister sharper despite walks

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Doug Fister battled some command issues in his next-to-last start of Spring Training, but only allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings thanks to some timely defense and four strikeouts to counter his four walks.

It was a breezy Sunday at Tradition Field, but Fister managed to keep the ball on the ground for the most part, inducing two 6-4-3 double plays to quell a couple of Mets rallies. After retiring the first two hitters of the fifth inning, he walked Kirk Nieuwenhuis and gave up a single to Justin Turner before taking his leave.

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He was relieved by Darin Downs, who got Ike Davis to fly out to center field to end the threat. Fister threw 88 pitches total, 48 for strikes.

"He's still having a little bit of command issues with his fastball, but overall he threw well," said catcher Alex Avila, who also caught Fister's last outing and said the right-hander looked sharper on Sunday. "His stuff was good. It's just a matter of him getting his mechanics down and being able to repeat them."

After the outing, Fister now owns a Spring Training ERA of 6.52, over the course of 19 1/3 innings in six appearances. Avila said the last pitch Fister is continuing to work on perfecting is the sinker, particularly inside to left-handers.

"He's always been a bit of a slow starter, at least the last 2 1/2 years or so that I've caught him," Avila said. "But he's on the right track and it looks like he's going to peak at the right time."

& This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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