Angels’ David Fletcher will get to play with his brother again — for Team Italy
David and Dominic Fletcher spent some time this offseason visiting the place where their mother grew up for the first time.
As prospective players for Team Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, the brothers from Cypress went on a tour of the country with some of their teammates. The purpose of the tour was to bring more awareness and excitement about the sport to a country in which it is not popular.
The group made a surprise stop in Florence just for the Fletcher brothers, allowing them to meet and have dinner with cousins from Fernanda Fletcher’s side of the family.
Angels infielder David Fletcher underwent surgery Tuesday to repair muscles in both legs and abdominal that will sideline him for a couple of months.
“Our mom taught us Italian when we were young,” Dominic said. “We kind of grew up speaking Italian and then over the years lost little bits and pieces. We still speak decent Italian. It was good enough to be able to have a decent conversation with our family.”
Italy’s WBC team is managed by Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, who has long been an ambassador for the sport in the country. Piazza, who moved to Italy with his family after he retired from Major League Baseball, played for Team Italy in the inaugural WBC in 2006, then returned to the team as a coach for the next two editions.
WBC teams have until Feb. 7 to finalize the 30-player roster they will take into the main competition in March, and both David and Dominic are likely to be on the Italian team. It would be the brothers’ first time playing together since high school.
David, 28, has been with the Angels since they drafted him out of Loyola Marymount in 2015. The versatile infielder will enter the third year of his five-year contract with the team this season. Dominic, a 25-year-old outfielder, plays in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, which drafted him out of Arkansas in 2019. His goal this season is to get called up to the majors.
Since turning pro, the Fletchers have played on the same field only once. That was this past summer. David was on a rehabilitation assignment with the Angels’ triple-A team, the Salt Lake Bees, who had a game against the Diamondbacks’ affiliate, the Reno Aces, who Dominic played for.
Though Dominic thinks David is the better player, citing David’s contract, he noted that in that triple-A game, “I got more hits than him,” he playfully said.
“Yeah, that was pretty cool,” David said. “Getting to play on the same field in professional baseball and hopefully one day in the major leagues too.”
David was called up to the big leagues the week before Dominic and the Razorbacks were to start their run at the 2018 College World Series. Their father, Tim, already had tickets and plans to see Dominic play. He found a flight to Seattle, where David was making his debut.
Tim couldn’t follow David and the Angels to their next game, which was in Oakland, because of work. The next week, at the College World Series, Tim parked himself away from much of the crowd, in a set of stands in the outfield, so that he could see Dominic play right in front of him. At the same time, he streamed the Angels game on his phone.
When the boys were children, they would wait for their father to come home from work so he could pitch to them.
It was a daily routine that included playing makeshift baseball games with other children from the Aliso Viejo neighborhood they lived in. The family moved to Cypress when David was 8 and Dominic 5.
“They just loved to play all the time,” Tim said.
But they didn’t learn the sport from their dad. Baseball started with David, and Dominic picked it up from him.
“My dad wanted us to play football and my mom was against us playing football,” Dominic said.
David grew into the sport on his own, finding a simple joy in throwing and catching baseballs, tennis balls, even balloons, and learning how to use a glove when he was a toddler.
“I didn’t know then, but I know now that not a lot of people can do that,” Tim said.
When David was 5 he asked his parents to send him to a summer camp at the Mark Cresse School of Baseball — which has three locations in Southern California and whose alumni include Piazza and former Angels All-Star Mark Trumbo. Fernanda would bring Dominic with her when she took David to camp and by the next year, Dominic was asking to participate, as well.
“Throughout both of our careers, he got to do everything first,” Dominic said. “Not only advice he told me, but just being able to watch him and learn and pick up on things that he did throughout his journey has really helped me.”
David said that although he offers advice to Dominic, his younger brother does well on his own.
“He sets a good example of how to work hard,” David added.
The Fletcher brothers played together on the same team just once, at Cypress High. That was in 2013, when David was a senior and Dominic was a freshman, and it might not have happened — Tim and Fernanda had contemplated sending Dominic to a different school. The brothers helped the Centurions to their second CIF Division 2 championship in program history.
“Those two boys were incredibly tireless workers,” Cypress coach John Weber said.
The Fletchers don’t all live in the same place anymore. Dominic spends his offseason in Arkansas, where younger sister Daviana is a cheerleader for the Razorbacks, and David lives in South Orange County.
Free-agent utility player Brandon Drury has a two-year agreement with the Angels that is worth $17 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
David still goes back to the fields at Cypress High — a special place for the Fletchers, who’ve run around and played on those fields even before they were teenagers — to watch games and even work out in his offseason. He also lends his time and resources to support his old team. Weber said one of his players had his baseball bag and cleats stolen. Weber called David, who sent over a new pair of cleats.
“He does things like that, he donates time to our poker fundraiser, he donates things, he comes to our events,” Weber said.
David also has gotten Angels teammates such as Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to donate gear to his high school team’s fundraisers.
When Dominic is in town, he works out with David and supports some of his community outreach efforts, like David’s charity poker tournament. The next edition of that event, whose proceeds go toward Summer Harvest Food 4 Kids, is Friday at the Old Ranch Club in Seal Beach.
“I’m awful proud of them and I’m not just talking about baseball,” Tim said. “I said, ‘You gotta give back in some way when you get the opportunity.’ ”
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.