NEW YORK — When Billy Eppler was asked how long he anticipated Doug Fister pitching in the minors, the Angels general manager answered: “That’s going to be up to him.”
The Angels’ deal with Fister, which was completed on Saturday, includes no guarantees for Fister, financially or otherwise. The Angels signed him to take a look at him, and they will then evaluate when — or if — he comes up to join their rotation.
“We’ll evaluate each start,” Eppler said. “See what we see, and make our decision.”
Fister, 33, posted a 4.64 ERA with the Houston Astros last season, numbers apparently not sufficient to earn him a contract he liked over the winter.
In the meantime, he has been working out on his own, pitching to college hitters. The Angels were among the teams that scouted a workout recently. Eppler said they saw him throwing 87 mph. That, combined with his track record, was enough for them to give him this opportunity.
“We’ve seen Doug pitch for a long time,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Hopefully his stuff is at a level we saw when he was successful. He’s starting a progression. We’ll just evaluate him after a workout and see where he is and hopefully, if he throws the ball like he can, he’s going to be important to our rotation.”
Fister, who was optioned to Class-A Inland Empire for procedural reasons, will begin his workouts at the Angels’ complex in Arizona. Eppler said he will throw a couple bullpen sessions, then face some hitters in batting practice, then pitch in an extended spring training game.
After all that, which could take 10 days or two weeks, he will report to Triple-A Salt Lake City, Eppler said. The GM said he’s expecting Fister to start out at three or four innings in Arizona.
That gives the Angels’ time not only to evaluate Fister, but to determine who he could replace in the Angels’ rotation. Although they have been hurt by injuries to Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, the replacements are holding their own.
“At the moment they are pitching well,” Eppler said.
ANOTHER DAY FOR PUJOLS
Albert Pujols was out of the Angels’ lineup for the second straight day, resting a tight right hamstring. Pujols took batting practice on the field, and could be available to play Sunday.
“He feels much better,” Scioscia said. “Hopefully he’ll progress. We’ll keep evaluating him.”
Pujols’ compared this injury to one in 2015, when he missed two games. Pujols would have to play first if he returned Sunday for the final game of a series under National League rules at Citi Field. Starting Monday, the Angels have four games with the DH at Tampa Bay, before returning to NL rules next weekend in Miami.
Andrew Bailey was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Fister. Bailey, who is now eligible June 9, has been shut down from throwing because of a shoulder problem. …
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