The Angels agreed to terms on a major league contract with veteran right-hander Doug Fister on Thursday, according to a source who requested anonymity because the deal has not yet been certified with a physical examination.
Fister, 33, went unsigned over the offseason. He struggled to a 4.64 earned-run average over 32 starts for Houston in 2016. He logged a 3.38 ERA in the six preceding seasons.
It’s not known how much time he will require to build up stamina and rejoin a rotation.
Already this season, the Angels have lost two of their top starters, Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs, to injuries. They’re now regularly starting a converted reliever, JC Ramirez; a rookie who has made 10 career starts, Alex Meyer; and a veteran who did not start a game a year ago, Jesse Chavez.
Faced with a similar situation at this stage in the 2016 season, the Angels signed veteran Tim Lincecum. He recorded a 9.16 ERA in nine starts and is out of baseball this year.
Pitchers prepare to hit
In June 2008, Meyer was the top pitching prospect in Indiana as a high-school senior. In the state tournament, he faced the state’s second-ranked prospect, a future minor league left-hander named Cameron Hobson who hummed it up to 90 mph.
That was the last time the 6-foot-9 Meyer batted, and the hardest pitch he’d ever seen. The gangly right-hander will have to bat again, and face faster pitching, when he starts Saturday against the New York Mets’ Zack Wheeler at Citi Field. His return to the activity has generated anticipation among his teammates.
“It’s going to be like watching a giraffe hit,” Skaggs said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
After singling once that day in 2008, Meyer did not hit again until 2012, when he took a few sessions of batting practice with Washington’s Class-A affiliate in preparation for a possible promotion to the double-A Eastern League, where pitchers hit.
He did not hit again until this month, when the Angels’ pitchers began taking batting practice ahead of this series. He’s mined his more experienced teammates for tips on how to bunt and how to pull his bat back in time to swing away. On Wednesday, he excitedly reported that he had homered twice.
“I’ve gotten better the last few days,” he said. “I just want to go up there and look like I know what I’m doing. But nothing’s gonna simulate a guy throwing 95 until I freakin’ see it. I’ve never seen anything like that before, by any means.”
Meyer’s major league debut occurred in a National League stadium, Milwaukee’s Miller Park. He appeared in relief for Minnesota and had not brought any hitting equipment to the stadium. Minutes before the pitcher’s spot was due up to bat, veteran teammate Mike Pelfrey sidled up to him on the bench and asked whether he had what he needed. Meyer borrowed Pelfrey’s equipment and soon walked out to the on-deck circle.
“Hey, when’s the last time you did this?” Twins manager Paul Molitor asked him on his way out. “You’re not gonna get hurt, right?”
He told him the truth. The half-inning ended with him in the on-deck circle. After he pitched the next half, Molitor pulled him from the game.
Meyer knows his longevity in Saturday’s start could depend on his ability to execute at the plate.
“It’d be a big load off of my back if I got the bunt down the first time,” Meyer said. “Or put the ball in play, whatever it is.”