BY JEFF FALK
SOME PHOTOS COURTESY OF HOUSTON ASTROS
We’re supposed to enjoy the journey.
We’re supposed to embrace the process.
We’re supposed to smell the roses along the way.
But baseball is such a results-oriented pursuit – one that’s based on repitition – that sometimes that’s difficult to do.
This season was supposed to be a breakout season for Derek Fisher, one in which he was scheduled to take the next step towards becoming an everyday player in the Major Leagues. But an injury, or more accurately an illness, seems to have lengthened that process.
On Monday, Fisher, a native of Rexmont who had been toiling for the Class AAA Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League, was recalled by the Houston Astros, according to a report by Robert Murray of The Athletic. Fisher was recalled partly because of a thumb injury sustained by the Astros’ everyday centerfielder, George Springer.
Fisher had been in California for more than two months, after being placed on the ten-day disabled list with gastrointestinal discomfort on May 20. While recovering from an adverse reaction to something, Fisher appeared in 55 Grizzly games with 193 at-bats, a .259 batting average, a .384 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage, with ten home runs, 32 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 64 strikeouts and 37 walks.
With Springer on the shelf, Fisher will battle outfielders Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Marwin Gonzalez and Tony Kemp for playing time. For Fisher, it is another opportunity to show what he can do on the Major League level.
Fisher will be counted on by the Astros for his defensive prowess, his speed and his base-running abilities. But in order for Fisher to stick in Houston, it would seem that he must also hit.
“When you understand the business, you can only control what you can control,” Fisher told Lebanon Sports Buzz in December of 2017. “Quite frankly, you don’t always know what team you’re going to be on. You’ve just got to be able to be a better baseball player. In the grand scheme, it’s all you can do.”
For the first time in his four-year professional career, Fisher made the Astros’ opening-day roster in March of this year. In 36 games and 74 at-bats for Houston before contracting his illness, the Cedar Crest High School graduate batted .176 with four home runs, 11 RBIs, two stolen bases, 37 strikeouts and five walks.
“It’s something you work for your entire life and to be a part of opening day is really special,” Fisher told The Houston Chronicle in March. “It’s my first one and I’ll definitely remember it forever.
“A lot of work in the cage and just assessing my at-bats through the spring and being able to put that all together has been feeling really good,” Fisher added.
Fisher, 24, made his major-league debut on June 14, 2017. But after five days with the big club was sent back down to Class AAA Fresno.
On July 25th of last year, Fisher was recalled by the Astros and remained on Houston’s roster throughout a postseason in which it captured a World Series championship. Fisher scored the winning run in Houston’s pivotal 13-12, ten-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the World Series.
“You want to contribute,” said Fisher in December. “You want to do everything you can. You want to be the best player you can be. You just want to contribute to a team as good as our’s.”
In 53 major league games and 146 at-bats in 2017 with the Astros, Fisher hit .212, with a .307 on-base-percentage and a .356 slugging percentage. He blasted five home runs, with 17 RBIs, three stolen bases, 54 strikeouts and 17 walks.
Over 89 career major league games, the 6-3, 205-pound Fisher has 220 at-bats, a .200 batting average, a .279 on-base percentage, a .657 slugging percentage, nine home runs, 28 RBIs, five stolen bases, 91 strikeouts and 22 walks.
Since Fisher’s illness, Houston has recalled outfielders Marisnick, Tony Kemp and Preston Tucker from Fresno.
During the past two MLB trading periods, Fisher has been rumored as part of potential Astro deals, but was not traded.