Above: Duarte’s Carlos Fisher has traded his Falcon blue for Cincinnati Red.
By Steve Ramirez
LOS ANGELES – Carlos Fisher remembers it vividly.
For him as a child, there was nothing better than the thrill and excitement of coming to Dodger Stadium. It’s still that way for Fisher, who made his return to Chavez Ravine on Monday night. He’s back, not as a fan, but as an opposing Major League Baseball player.
Fisher, who starred at Duarte High School and Citrus College, returned as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, who opened a three-game series with the Dodgers.
“It’s exciting,” said Fisher, a middle reliever for Cincinnati who was called up May 22 and made his MLB debut two days later. “This is the stadium I came to as a little kid and watched guys play.
“I had these days circled on the calendar when I got called up. When I was in the minors, I told myself, `If I get called up for just a few days, make it these three days.’ It’s an amazing feeling.”
Fisher’s road to the big leagues has been long and winding. It goes back to college, when he spent his final two years at NAIA baseball power Lewis-Clark State College before being selected in the 11th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Reds.
He then earned his minor-league stripes, making stops in Billings, Mont.; Dayton, Ohio; Sarasota, Fla.; Chattanooga, Tenn. and Louisville, Ky. He treated each as valuable experience and used them as the stepping stone to the Major Leagues. But there were still doubts.
“There was a little bit,” Fisher said. “Being a little bit older, there were thoughts knowing I might (be running out of time).
“I’ve been moving up every year, but I am getting a little older. I’m already 26, so yeah, there was a little pressure to get here.”
But after going 4-1 with 2.20 ERA in 2007 at Class A Sarasota in 2007 and coming back with a 5-0 mark with a 1.04 ERA at Louisville last year, the pressure was relieved in May.
“I was so excited,” Fisher said. “It was like all that hard work I did had finally paid off. I was calling the family and friends, then when you get up there, you’re nervous because you don’t know what to expect.
“But it was such a smooth transition. Everyone welcomed me. It was smooth, but I was a little nervous.”
Above: Duarte’s Carlos Fisher, now a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, receives a welcome home Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Those nerves haven’t made it to the field. He’s been solid, going 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 18 appearances. He’s also struck out 21 in 23
“We have a really good bullpen, and guys have their roles,” said Fisher, who has given up just two runs in his past seven appearances with a 1.80 ERA in his past 10 innings of work. “I know my role. I’m a middle guy, so I know the kind of times I’m going to pitch. Everyone knows their roles, and an eighth-inning guy knows he’s going to pitch in the eighth inning. It’s just waiting for my turn. I’m the only guy who doesn’t have a set turn, a set inning of when I’m going to pitch. I just have to be ready.”
Fisher, who was a starter during his first two seasons in the minors before switching to a relief role, hopes to work his way into a late-innings spot.
“I definitely don’t see myself as a starter,” he said. “My goal is to eventually get to that set-up role. That’s where I see myself. But (the Reds) haven’t told me anything.”
Until then, he’s just going to do his best in middle relief and enjoy his time in the Major Leagues.
“It’s been an amazing experience, getting up here and sticking around for a little bit,” Fisher said. “Pitching-wise, I’m still getting used to being in the big leagues, but everyday I feel more and more comfortable.”
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