Fister using room to grow as spring motivation

Righty says allowing homer to Bautista will help him get 'back on track'

Fister using room to grow as spring motivation

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Lumps and bumps are part of every pitcher's Spring Training, and they're an important aspect in the process of preparing for the regular season.

Some bumps are more difficult than others, however. And some lineups, too.

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Doug Fister was reminded of that Friday afternoon in Houston's 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. The Astros' right-hander allowed five runs on six hits and a monster three-run home run to Jose Bautista in 3 2/3 innings.

Bautista's three-run blast

"The home run pitch was a changeup that really flattened out; I was finishing quite well," said Fister, who also fanned three. "I have a tendency to cut things off and not completely finish, so I think having some big reminders like that with the home run fortunately gets me back on track."

The Blue Jays were a solid barometer at this point in Spring Training for Fister, as they featured a lineup with several regulars, including Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Bautista. Fister won the first battle, but he struggled in a third inning, which included his own throwing error, a walk and a wild pitch before Bautista's dinger.

"That's kind of the thing I have to deal with in Spring Training, kind of get back in the swing of things, get my pitching brain back and execution," Fister said. "I was able to pitch out of some things. … Obviously, there's a lot of room for growth, and that kind of keeps me in line for my spring."

Barring injury, Fister, Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman will round out the rotation behind Opening Day starter Dallas Keuchel and righty Collin McHugh -- but in what order has yet to be determined. Wandy Rodriguez is also in the mix.

The schedule is a big reason manager A.J. Hinch and his staff haven't made a decision. The Astros close their exhibition slate with two games against the Brewers in Houston, followed by two days off, Opening Day vs. the Yankees and another off-day. Then, after two more games in New York, the Astros once again face the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Hinch said the opponent, more so than the order, will dictate the rotation.

"Whoever is in the four and five slot is not going to pitch for a while," Hinch said. "Somebody's not pitching until that weekend in Milwaukee, and we don't want that to be the same person who pitches those two games against Milwaukee because we don't want them to see them back to back. We'll sort it out over the last week."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.