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Back to Basics: After tweaking his mechanics, Fister has lost nine straight games for Jaxx

Doug Fister is not used to struggling.

Not when it comes to sports and especially not when he steps on the mound.

Athletics have usually come easy to the 6-foot-8, 200-pound right-hander.

Fister was a two-sport star in basketball and baseball at Golden Valley.

He was an All-American at Merced College, and after compiling a 15-11 record in his two years at Fresno State, the Seattle Mariners snatched up Fister in the seventh round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.

In just his second full season at Double-A West Tennessee, Fister sprinted out of the gates this year with a 5-2 start.

"I started out good," Fister said. "We tried to tweak some things a little bit to raise my game to the next level.

"And some of the things didn't work so well."

Since the hot start, Fister has lost nine straight decisions.

He's currently 5-11 with a 5.22 ERA.

"We're continuing to tweak my delivery and find what works and what doesn't.

"It's a learning process. That's why I'm in the minors. Not only for pitching, but learning life lessons."

The three-day All-Star break last week came at the right time for Fister.

He spent the break at home in Merced.

He returned to Tennessee refocused and with a plan to return to the basics.

"In the beginning, I really focused on my command of the baseball," Fister said. "I really wasn't worried with how hard I threw. Just the location and the situation at hand.

"I took my focus off that and concentrated on velocity. When I pushed that envelope, it took away my command."

Instead of working on new arm slots and tweaking his mechanics, Fister planned to return to the same delivery he had when he came out of Fresno State.

There's something to be said about just doing what feels comfortable.

"I could definitely tell he was frustrated when I talked to him," his father Larry said. "I could tell by what he said and the way he said it.

"He was frustrated and he had lost confidence in himself. He just had to fight through it.

"When he left here after the break, he felt good about starting up again."

Fister's unselfish attitude may have compounded his problems. He's always been the type of player who will do whatever his coach tells him to do.

So when his coaches in Tennessee asked him to try new arm slots...

He did.

When they asked him to tweak his delivery...

He did.

When Fister didn't feel comfortable with some of the changes, well, he had a hard time telling his coaches.

"Doug is a believer so that doesn't surprise me," said GV basketball coach Keith Hunter.

"He would never put himself in front of the team. He's going to listen and do what the coach tells him to do.

"I could see how that could be a hard thing for him to battle."

If anything, Fister has learned a lot about himself this year -- lessons that will help him away from the diamond.

"When you have a situation where you have to approach someone in authority, you have to step up and be a man," Fister said. "You can't beat around the bush.

"That's how life is and that's how it is in the business world."

Meanwhile, he has plenty of time to turn his season around.

In his first start after the break, he gave up just one earned run in six innings pitched.

It's definitely a step in the right direction.

"At times, you're going to get down," Fister said. "That's part of baseball.

"What's the old saying? Only the strong survive. Well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

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