Who doesn’t like a blue-collar player? A scrapper. A grinder. The kind of player who leaves it all out there on the field and doesn’t get cheated in an at bat.
Players like that quickly become fan favorites. They make the team better than their individual stats suggest. Fans connect with them because in many cases, that’s the kind of player they wish that they could be.
In David Fletcher, the Angels have one of the best blue-collar players in the game right now. He is one of the toughest outs at the plate. He plays great defense at multiple positions. He leads off the game and sets the table for the heart of the order. He doesn’t strikeout often and gives his all on every play. He makes the Angels a better team whenever he is in the lineup.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with David Fletcher to talk to him about the 2021 season, his thoughts on baseball in general, and life off of the field. We asked questions from fans that we received on our website, www.angelswin.com, Facebook, Twitter, and from our panel of writers. Along the way we talked about his 26-game hit streak (2nd longest in Angels history and the longest in MLB this season), what it’s like to play for his hometown team, watching Ohtani’s spectacular season, who the best Angels poker players are, and what he’s seeing in the younger players that are making the team.
David Saltzer: This is David Saltzer and Tres Hefter from AngelsWin.com speaking today with Angels’ infielder, David Fletcher. David, how are you doing today?
David Fletcher: Doing great. How about you?
David Saltzer: Doing great. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We’d like to talk a little bit about your season, about baseball in general, and then a little bit of life outside of the stadium.
David Fletcher: Perfect.
David Saltzer: I’ll start with some questions about the season. Can you tell us a little bit about the season, how is went from your perspective?
David Fletcher: Definitely, some ups and downs for us. You know, we had a lot of injuries, obviously. And yeah, I mean, so far, it’s been a little rough up and down, but we’re just going to finish strong and keep showing up to the field ready to win games.
David Saltzer: In terms of your season this year, you started off a little slowly, and then you went on this amazing hit streak. What really changed for you , and what really clicked so that you were able to really go on that hit streak?
David Fletcher: I think just, kind of, a natural ups and downs of the game, and just having my timing get a little better, kind of just being more—just being more right at the plate.
David Saltzer: You know, at the time, your manager, Joe Maddon, was juggling you a little bit in the lineup. How does that affect you as a player to have that adjustment, and what are you trying to do in different spots in the lineup?
David Fletcher: It doesn’t really affect me much. Pretty much take the same approach whether I’m leading off, hitting second, ninth, wherever. So, I mean, more than anything, just the situation of the game dictates my approach, not really where I’m hitting in the lineup; more so, where the runners are, the score of the game, who’s pitching, things like that.
David Saltzer: When you were on the hit streak, how aware of it were you that, you know, every day, and what were you thinking as you were going through the hit streak?
David Fletcher: Yeah, definitely aware of it, and it was exciting. And yeah, I definitely wanted to keep it going as long as I could. So, hopefully, I can start another one soon.
David Saltzer: You know, you work the count really well; you have a good two-strike approach, stuff like that. Where did you really learn how to do that, and, you know, at the plate, what are you thinking when you’re battling like that?
David Fletcher: Yeah. I mean, I’ve always wanted to be a tough out at the plate. And ever since I was little, you know, don’t want to strike out, and wanted to put the ball in play and make it a tough at-bat for the pitcher. So yeah, I’m just up there. You know, when I get two strikes, battling and looking for a pitch I can hit hard and put in play. And that’s about it.
David Saltzer: Who would you say are the toughest pitchers? And who would you say that you’ve faced, and, you know, what are some of the tricks that you had to try and battle with them?
David Fletcher: Yeah, there’s a lot of good pitchers in the league. I mean, Gerrit Cole, the guy we recently faced, really good stuff, doesn’t make many mistakes, so you’ve got to, kind of, be ready to put the first pitch you get to hit in play. With him, like I said, just get a good pitch to hit and put it in play and hope for the best.
David Saltzer: You know, this season, we’re watching something spectacular with the Angels with Shohei Ohtani. What are all the other players in the clubhouse thinking as they’re watching this? And what are you thinking watching what he’s accomplishing?
David Fletcher: Yeah, I mean, he’s always had the ability to do this. It’s not anything new to any of us that have seen him play the last couple of years. It’s just, kind of, all come together a little bit this year for him on the mound and at the plate. And it’s pretty incredible to watch on a daily basis.
David Saltzer: You know, lots of fans have, like, bets or things like as to what he can accomplish this season. I have a bet with my cousin that he’ll hit a certain number of home runs and so forth. Do you guys ever make bets or things about, like, what he can accomplish this season?
David Fletcher: No. No bets and stuff like that. But, I mean, it’s pretty cool to see him pass some of these milestones and most home runs by a pitcher and most, you know, strikeouts and all these things. So, it’s just cool to be out there and watch it.
David Saltzer: What’s the mood like in the clubhouse? And, like, when you get Trout—and, you know, we’ve seen Villar come back and stuff—what’s it like seeing some of these guys? And what does it do to the clubhouse when you get some of them back in the clubhouse to be there with you guys?
David Fletcher: Yeah, it’s nice have them in there. It’ll be nice when we get a couple more of those guys healthy and back on the field. So, I’m just looking forward to that.
David Saltzer: You know, now that you are one of the more seasoned players, what advice are you offering Marsh and Adell and players like that—some of the younger guys? And what are you seeing also in them and then also, some of the younger pitchers that are coming up?
David Fletcher: Yeah, those guys have a ton of talent. I think for them it’s about, you know, taking good approaches and slowing the game down in big spots and, kind of, just the daily grind of the ups and downs and staying even keel.
David Saltzer: Tres, do you want to take over?
Tres Hefter: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, David. Thanks again for taking some time to talk with us. Good luck tonight at the game. My first question: you bounced around the field a little bit with the Angels. You’ve even seen some time in the outfield, and settled in pretty nicely at second base. Do you have a preference where you play or which position or which position you feel more comfortable at?
David Fletcher: Honestly, I feel pretty comfortable, I mean, this year just playing second and short. But feel comfortable at both. I played short most of my life growing up through high school, college, minor leagues. So, always—always comfortable there, and obviously, played a ton of second base last couple of years. So yeah, I’m feeling good at second and also short.
Tres Hefter: Great. Is there anywhere it’s been particularly challenging to play, especially, kind of, getting thrown right into the outfield?
David Fletcher: I wouldn’t say the outfield was challenging, especially coming from the infield. It’s, kind of, a little easier to play out there but definitely different and took a little adjustment on the reading the balls off the bat. But I had fun playing out there in 2019.
Tres Hefter: You know if you’re still the emergency catcher?
David Fletcher: I don’t think I am; hopefully I’m not. But [laugh] I have to, I’ll go back there.
Tres Hefter: Follow on that note, do you feel defensive shifting has taken away some of the reliance on instinct a little bit? Do you feel like shifting might be best limited or banned in the future?
David Fletcher: That’s a tough question. I don’t think it should be banned or limited. I think it’s a good opportunity for hitters to take advantage of it if they choose to. I don’t think hitters take advantage of it enough. But yeah, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the game. I don’t think it takes away from many instincts in the field. There’s still a lot of stuff that goes into it. So, I don’t think it should be banned.
Tres Hefter: Thank you. You’ve now had three different managers in your time with the Angels. How has Joe Maddon impacted the clubhouse most? What’s been the most difference between the three?
David Fletcher: Yeah, he was the same guy every day when he walks in. Always a positive attitude and a good relationship with all the players and good communicator. So, it’s nice to have him, kind of, be the same guy every day and lead us in that way.
Tres Hefter: Great to hear. At what point in your career did it, kind of, dawn on you, like, “Holy Cow, I think I might actually make it to the majors.”? Did you ever have moments where you did things like look at your own baseball card or look at yourself in video games or check you baseball reference page and stuff like that?
David Fletcher: What was the question? When it dawned on me that…?
Tres Hefter: At what point, as you were coming up, that it, kind of, start to dawn on you that— “My God, I might actually make it.”?
David Fletcher: I never put too much thought into it. Maybe A ball or maybe double A, started, kind of, climbing the ladder of the minor league and getting closer to the big leagues, so… But I always, kind of, was focused on where I was and just didn’t really put too much thought into the future. And obviously, wanted to play in the big leagues, and that was my ultimate goal. But it never really was showing up at the field every day thinking that.
Tres Hefter: Right. I remember probably spring training around 2015 or 2016, you had a really great spring. I think that was the moment I, kind of, thought, “Man, this guy is going to make it,” and did.
Tres Hefter: You proved me right, so thank you for that. [laugh] Feel good about that. How exactly have you been able to maintain such a contact-first approach in a game that’s become so centralized around these three true outcome-type players? Is that something that you’ve stuck with since you were little, and its just carried you this way? Or have you had to, kind of, fight to stay that way?
David Fletcher: Yeah. It’s pretty natural for me. I, kind of, know what kind of player I am, and what I can bring. And then when the game starts, it’s just up there looking to win games and do what I can to help the team. So, it really doesn’t cross my mind very much at all.
Tres Hefter: So, it’s comes naturally. But we had the opportunity to interview Rod Carew a couple months back, and he specifically called you out as far as what your skill set was and what it brought to the team and how much it vibed with the kind of baseball that he grew up playing, too. So, I just thought I’d pass that along. So, nice from a Hall of Famer.
David Fletcher: For sure.
Tres Hefter: Southern California brings a lot of baseball talent into this world, and you’re one of the luck ones that have been able to play for your home-town team. Are there any other guys that you grew up playing against or playing with that you’d like to face some day?
David Fletcher: There’s a lot of guys in the big leagues right now that I grew up playing against or with. Ryan McMahon, Rio Ruiz, Ty France, JP Crawford, Thomas Eshelman, there’s a bunch of guys across the league that I grew up playing with or played against. A lot more than that, but those are just guys I can think about off the top of my head. But pretty cool to see southern California guys. And it’s, kind of, a small circle when end up looking at—you, kind of know everybody in some way or another. So, it is pretty cool to see.
Tres Hefter: Did you know Jose Rojas at all when you all were coming up? Did you all play together when you were all young?
David Fletcher: He’s the one guy that I didn’t play with or against. But obviously now, I get to talk to him a lot, and we know a lot of the same people, too.
Tres Hefter: Speaking of a little bit, how much do you keep in touch with your brother, Dominic? We saw him a few weeks ago at a minor league game here in Texas. I wonder if you all have ever had dreams of playing together, too?
David Fletcher: Oh, yeah; for sure. I talk to him all the time and check in with him, how his season’s going, and check on how he does every night. And yeah, it’s cool to see him doing well, and yeah, hopefully he can get up to the big leagues soon.
Tres Hefter: Great. Wishing him the best, too. There was a cool moment a few days back where both Andrew and Austin Romine had a chance to play together in a game. And that, kind of, brings me back to another question about positional versatility. I think Andrew, a few years back, played every single position in a game. You ever have any dreams of doing that someday in your career?
David Fletcher: Now that you bring it up, maybe. But not really [laugh]. Yeah, that’s a pretty cool thing that I’ve seen some people do.
Tres Hefter: No problem. One last question before I turn it back over to Dave for his next round, Do you have any causes or charities that you particularly care about or support?
David Fletcher: Yeah. We did some work with the Food Harvest in Orange County over the offseason getting some meals out to people in need, especially with Covid going on and affecting a lot of people. So, we’re working on some more things that’ll raise money for them in the offseason.
Tres Hefter: Very cool. I’ve worked a few of those myself. Good to hear. Dave, I’m turning it back over to you. Thanks again, David.
David Saltzer: Thanks, Tres. You know, Tres touched on it a little bit, you know, as a southern California player growing up with a team you’re rooting for, got to go and see and everything. What’s it like being that hometown success story?
David Fletcher: Yeah, I didn’t realize it when I got drafted how lucky I was to actually get drafted by the Angels, the hometown team. But once I got to the big leagues, it was pretty special for me. And the other thing is getting to live at home year-round and, kind of, being in the same area and see all the fans. It’s definitely something I don’t take for granted.
David Saltzer: What are some of your favorite go-to places in OC?
David Fletcher: Oh, man—
David Saltzer: Not, you know, like, not the people who are going to be, like, hanging out there for you, but I mean—
David Fletcher: No, [laugh] huh. No—
David Saltzer: —you like to see more, what were some of the places you grew up going to?
David Fletcher: We go to the Irvine Spectrum every once in a while to eat and/or watch a movie. Yeah, not many one spots, but, kind of, hang out everywhere.
David Saltzer: What would be a perfect day in the offseason for you, like, away from baseball, no baseball activity?
David Fletcher: Oh. I’m not very exciting in the offseason; just, kind of, hang out with my wife and my dogs at home and maybe, go to the beach, something simple like that.
David Saltzer: All right. Best burger in Orange County? What would you say?
David Fletcher: In-N-Out burger.
David Saltzer: Okay. So, if you bring out up In-N-Out, the Angel debate, are you a fan of the In-N-Out fries or not a fan of the In-N-Out fries?
David Fletcher: Yes.
David Saltzer: Let’s see. How aware are you of just how incredibly popular you are on social media? I mean, when we look at Twitter, and we look at all the Facebook posts, you know, fans just completely gravitate toward you because you’re such a, you know, scrappy, blue-collar, hard-working player. How aware are you of this, and what are some of the things that interactions you may have had that you find positive?
David Fletcher: Yeah, it’s definitely cool for me to see all the fan support and kind of appreciation for the way I play the game, it’s really cool for me to see. And I’m really appreciative of that. And then there’s also some funny pictures and stuff that I’ve seen out there, definitely entertaining stuff.
David Saltzer: So, you enjoy seeing some of that stuff?
David Fletcher: Yeah, I’ve seen some funny ones [laugh].
David Saltzer: Awesome. I heard you’re quite the poker player? Any poker tips you’ve got?
David Fletcher: Oh, man. Yeah, I’ve been playing for a few years now, and I’ve a couple good friends that play professionally and got a chance to learn from them. So, it takes a lot of patience and studying and hard work. Definitely fun for me to do in the offseason, too.
David Saltzer: You guys have a poker group in the Angels’ clubhouse?
David Fletcher: Yeah, we play on the road every once in a while after games.
David Saltzer: Who would you say is the toughest poker player on the team, and who bluffs the best?
David Fletcher: Eww. Ippei is a good poker player. Who bluffs the best? [pause] Not many good bluffers on our team. I have to go with myself on that one. [laugh]
David Saltzer: [laugh] Oh, we’ll tell the other guys on the team that. I’m sure every hand you had; you got the cards you need to win. We’ll tell them that, anyway. You know, a lot of players—you know, when you’re done with your baseball career, what would be a second career that you would’ve like to have done, other than, say, a baseball player?
David Fletcher: Yeah, when I’m done playing, I definitely want to go into coaching, not sure what level, maybe college. But yeah, that’s something I definitely want to do when I’m done playing.
David Saltzer: Well, speaking of coaching, what was it like in Cape Cod League, and would that be something you’d want to do?
David Fletcher: Yeah, that was a great experience for me. Met a lot of people out there and definitely good for my baseball career getting to face that kind of pitching before getting drafted. Yeah, I played with a lot of good players out there and got some good coaching.
David Saltzer: You’re my sons’ favorite player, so they wanted to know, you know, when you were younger, you know, what was your thought as yourself as a player and hitter. Like, where you trying to be more of a power hitter and then switched more towards contact. Or did you always want to see yourself as more of a use-the-whole-field type player?
David Fletcher: I’ve always been the same player since I was six-years-old, probably. At the plate, I just want to get hits and get on base and make things happen. So, I’ve always, kind of, had the same approach.
David Saltzer: Who did you emulate yourself most after, and who were favorite players growing up?
David Fletcher: Yeah, when I was real young, it was David Eckstein. The way he played and hustled and got the most out of his abilities is definitely inspiring to me and modeled my game after him. And then Dustin Pedroia was another one, as I got a little older, that I loved to watch play a lot.
David Saltzer: You know, fans always draw that comparison with you and Eckstein. The team just seems to play better with you in the lineup and you on the field. They seem to win more. Do the other players seem to notice that, and are you aware of that?
David Fletcher: Of comparisons to—
David Saltzer: That—you know, that you just—you know, some players have a greater contribution than just—it’s greater than the sum of the parts. That you may uplift the whole team in many ways in terms of the play, kind of, like, David Eckstein.
David Fletcher: Yeah, I like to think that I, kind of, do a lot of little things well to win games. And I take a lot of pride in doing those things.
David Saltzer: Last two questions. Number one: you’re just an all-around great and approachable, wonderful kind of person. And you doing interviews like this and so forth, you know, how have things changed from your perspective now that you’re, you know, more of an established player and, you know, more famous, new site, you’re going to be for years, has that changed your perspective on what you would like to do with Orange County and with the Angels?
David Fletcher: Not really. I mean, I’ve always, since I came up, I, kind of, knew I wanted to play here for a long time. And definitely one of my goals is to play here the rest of my career. And that’s something that’s not easy to do, and I’ve a lot of work left to do to make that happen. But yeah, I definitely am happy to be here and excited that I’m going to be here for, definitely, a few more years.
David Saltzer: Last question. What is one thing that you can share with fans about yourself that we may not really know? You know, something that you haven’t really gotten out there, you know, about you, your personality, or something like that, so that fans can have a better feel and understanding for you?
David Fletcher: That’s a tough question. Probably I don’t like to talk too much about myself and pretty quiet person. Yeah, that’s probably something…
David Saltzer: But you know, we really appreciate you taking the time. And, you know, as I said, fans really just absolutely adore everything that you do on the field, off the field. Really, thank you so much for your time. Tres?
Tres Hefter: I was going to echo the same thoughts there, David. Thank you for everything. It’s been a joy being able to talk today, and thank you for all your contributions on the field; past, present, and future.
David Fletcher: Thank you.
Tres Hefter: Wishing you the best of luck.
David Fletcher: Thanks, I appreciate it.
David Saltzer: On behalf of Angels’ fans everywhere and AngelsWin.com, thank you so much for taking the time. We really appreciate it. We wish you the best of luck this season and going forward into the future.
David Fletcher: No problem; thank you, guys.