ANAHEIM -- Tim Fletcher instilled the value of hard work in both of his sons, David and Dominic, and one of his greatest joys was watching his boys play baseball.
So it was bittersweet for the Fletchers on Friday night, as David Fletcher, a shortstop for the Angels, and Dominic Fletcher, called up to start in left field by the D-backs earlier in the day, squared off in the Majors for the first time. Their dad wasn’t there to see it, as he died unexpectedly on June 12. But their mom, Fernanda, and other family members and friends were there to witness something the Fletchers had always dreamed about.
“I think this would have been one of his proudest moments,” Dominic said. “Every night, he turned on the TV and had both of our games going simultaneously. So to be able to be here and watch would’ve been one of his favorite things.”
The Fletchers, who grew up in nearby Cypress, Calif., rooted for the Angels growing up, which made it even more special that the first game they played together in the Majors came at Angel Stadium.
The two had faced off in the Minors this season with David, 29, playing for Triple-A Salt Lake and Dominic, 25, playing for Reno, but doing it in the Majors had a different feel. They also played together with Team Italy this year in the World Baseball Classic, which was their first time as teammates since at Cypress High School in 2013.
“It's awesome,” David said. “It’s something that we kind of thought would happen one day.”
It wasn’t something that was on their immediate radar, however.
David opened the season with the Angels but was outrighted off the 40-man roster in mid-April after struggling offensively. Then, after turning things around at Triple-A Salt Lake, he was called back up on June 24 and has been the club’s regular shortstop with Zach Neto on the injured list with an oblique strain.
Dominic, ranked as Arizona’s No. 14 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was called up Friday along with Kyle Lewis to give the D-backs some added depth in the outfield after rookie sensation Corbin Carroll left Thursday’s game early due to soreness in his right arm and is listed as day to day.
But Dominic didn’t even realize that the D-backs were set to play the Angels when he first heard the news he was going back to the big leagues. He made his big league debut April 30 when Carroll was out for a few days due to a knee injury and got off to a hot start for the D-backs, posting a slash line of .462/.488/.744 in his first 12 games. After hitting .154 over his next 10 games, he was optioned back to Reno on May 25.
“I honestly didn't even know that they were playing the Angels this series until they told me in the office,” Dominic said. “Then the first thing I did was pick up the phone and call him. So it was pretty exciting -- especially at a place where we grew up coming to games here.”
David didn’t pick up the phone the first time Dominic called and Dominic joked that his older brother was purposely ignoring him. But David, who has played with the Angels since 2018 and signed a five-year deal worth $26 million before the 2021 season, said he had a hunch about what was happening.
“I didn't even see it ring, honestly,” David said. “I just saw I had a missed call. But I thought he might. I saw Carroll left the game yesterday, so I had texted him. But he didn’t think he was coming up. But when he called me, I kind of knew what it was about. So, yeah, pretty cool to hear that news.”
Despite their ages being a little more than three years apart, the two brothers have always been close and communicate with each other regularly. But their talks usually don’t get into the technical side of the game. They try to help each other with the mental part of baseball.
“It's usually nothing mechanical or anything like that,” Dominic said. “It's usually just little things here and there. We are two different hitters. I'm left-handed, he's right-handed. So it's not like we're breaking down swings or anything too much, but just little things here and there.”