Results tagged ‘ Prince Fielder ’
Prince Fielder talked with Dallas media tonight on a conference call, where he was asked why he accepted the trade that sent him out of Detroit and to the Rangers. His response sounded like somebody who was ready for a fresh start.
“Obviously it’s another great team,” Fielder said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Obviously I thought it would be good for everybody. I want everybody to be happy.”
Fielder did not express hard feelings toward Detroit.
“I understand baseball is a business,” Fielder said. “It was all good. We didn’t win the World Series…it happens. It was good. I enjoyed it. I’ll miss the fans and miss my teammates but I’m happy to start new in Texas.”
On this past season and what happened, Fielder said, “Whatever I did last year, I’ll do the opposite this year. It was cool. The season went fine. It is what it is. You can’t take it back. We went to the playoffs. We didn’t go as far as we wanted to go but everybody is still alive.”
This might be the only time Prince Fielder enters any baseball competition as a leadoff hitter. Once he finished his swings in Monday night’s Home Run Derby, totaling five home runs, it was a merciless wait to see if he advanced.
It was not particularly long. Once first-time Derby contestants Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Cuddyer, Pedro Alvarez and Chris Davis followed him with better opening rounds, Fielder went from looking to match Ken Griffey Jr. with three Derby crowns to looking at an early exit at Citi Field.
From his first two swings, Fielder seemingly was on his way to an encore of his winning performance from last year in Kansas City. His first swing took a ball out 379 feet to right field, followed by a 483-foot launch into the upper deck.
From there, however, he went into a power outage, flying out twice to right before getting a 363-foot drive over the fence.
Four consecutive outs followed, Fielder struggling to get the ball into the hot, humid New York air with enough power to clear the fences at Citi Field. He pulled everything, but powered nothing, lining one pitch foul into the seats down the right-field line.
A 370-foot drive ended his drought, but a line drive into the gap in right-center field started another one. Once his liner to the right-field corner fell just short of the fence, he was down to his final out.
He made a rally, launching ball off the canopy near the concourse in right-center field, but his final drive died in the depths of center field.
Instead of a repeat of last year’s crown, Fielder’s attempt to defend his crown ended up more like his first Derby in 2007, when he hit just three homers out of AT&T Park in San Francisco to finish tied for sixth. Meanwhile Cespedes, who was added to the Derby only after Miguel Cabrera couldn’t take part, stole the show Monday night.
Fielder also followed his regular-season history at Citi Field from his days as a Milwaukee Brewer. He hit one home run in 10 career games here, batting .250 (9-for-36). The Tigers, fittingly, will return for a three-game series against the Mets in August.
Miguel Cabrera is finally getting the respect he deserves in All-Star balloting. He not only has lapped his competition at third base on the American League ballot, he currently leads all AL players in votes.
The first balloting update, released Monday, shows how much Cabrera’s Triple Crown season in 2012 and record-setting pace in 2013 have vaulted him among the game’s biggest stars. Cabrera has 1,500,165 votes, double that of Baltimore’s Manny Machado among AL third basemen and about 265,000 more than Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the AL’s top vote-getter.
Cabrera’s lone All-Star start in his career came in 2010 as an injury replacement for Justin Morneau at first base. He has six other All-Star appearances as a reserve, including the last two seasons as a Tiger.
The only other Tiger in line to start as of Monday’s balloting update is Torii Hunter, third among AL outfielders with 761,937 votes. He holds a slim leads over Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, while looking up at Angels sensation Mike Trout and Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
Prince Fielder is at serious risk of losing his starting spot at first base thanks to Chris Davis’ amazing start and a strong showing by Orioles fans at the ballot box. Though Fielder topped the million-vote mark already at 1,059,300, he trails Davis by just under 117,000 votes.
The potential snub could be at shortstop, where Jhonny Peralta’s hot start earned him just a third-place showing behind Texas’ Elvis Andrus and O’s counterpart J.J. Hardy. However, shortstop is shaping up to be one of the tightest races on the AL ballot this year, with about 187,000 votes separating Peralta from Andrus’ leading total.
Omar Infante’s quietly strong season has him ranked fourth among AL second basemen with 417,333 votes. Victor Martinez, despite his slow start, ranks fifth among designated hitters with 340,967 votes, about 675,000 behind Boston’s David Ortiz.
It’s still way, way too soon to make a case that Prince Fielder is on his way to becoming the Tigers next American League Most Valuable Player, but some people around the Tigers are thinking about it already. Winning AL Player of the Week is a very good start.
The way Fielder hit last week, especially in Oakland over the last few days, it wasn’t much of a contest. Fielder went 12-for-19 (.632) over six games with four doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs. Add in nine walks, two of them intentional, and a hit by pitch, and the 28-year-old first baseman reached base safely at a .733 clip.
Both of Fielder’s home runs came over the weekend in Oakland, where his three-run homer accounted for all of Detroit’s runs in Friday’s series opener. Fielder went 4-for-5 in that game, then added a solo shot Saturday in a 2-for-3, two-walk performance. His RBI double contributed to a 10-run Tiger outburst in the series finale on Sunday.
Fielder went into Monday leading the American League with a .429 batting average, tied atop the league with 19 RBIs, and second with a .527 on-base percentage. It’s the kind of start of a year many believe could take his game to another level for several reasons.
Fielder has had a year to get to know AL pitchers and how teams around the league defense him, and still batted .313 last season. Just as important, he has protection behind him in the lineup that he didn’t have last year with Victor Martinez back from last year’s knee surgery.
Martinez hasn’t been a major deterrent for teams to pitch around Fielder so far, but he made the A’s pay for intentionally walking Fielder in the first inning Sunday by delivering a two-run single off Jarrod Parker.
How often Fielder walks this season could impact whether he could contend for a hoe run or RBI title. Even if it does, some in the organization believe he’s a good enough pure hitter to contend for a batting crown.
His teammates have already started building his case for MVP, putting him on the path that Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera took over the last couple years.
“I don’t think it’s any stretch of the imagination that he has a good chance of being an MVP in this league,” Verlander told reporters on Saturday.
Player of the Week honors are nothing new for Fielder, who won four of them in the National League during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. This is the first AL honor for Fielder, having been arguably overshadowed last year by Cabrera’s historic Triple Crown season.
If Fielder keeps up anywhere near this type of hitting for a good stretch, he’s going to be difficult to ignore, either for more of these awards or for the MVP conversation at year’s end.
Jim Leyland has talked on and off for most of the summer about trying to get Prince Fielder a day at designated hitter (he hasn’t missed a game since Sept. 14, 2010, and he always says he’s fine to play first base). Leyland was already thinking about it before Fielder took hit-by-pitches in each of the last two games. He’s doing it tonight.
Why now, especially with an off-day coming Thursday? Part of Leyland’s reason was Delmon Young’s struggles against Indians sinkerballer Justin Masterson, despite the way Young has been swinging the past week. He’s 3-for-20 with five strikeouts off Masterson, including 1-for-9 with three strikeouts and three groundouts since the start of last season. Since Masterson is giving up a .291 average and .831 OPS to lefties this year, Young isn’t going to displace either of the corner outfielders.
It’ll be the second game at DH this season for Fielder. The other one was April 22 against Texas, and Don Kelly started at first base in that one, too. Kelly went 0-for-3, Fielder went 1-for-5, and Colby Lewis outpitched Drew Smyly in a 3-2 Texas win.
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Andy Dirks, LF
- Miguel Cabrera, 3B
- Prince Fielder, DH
- Brennan Boesch, RF
- Don Kelly, 1B
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Alex Avila, C
- Omar Infante, 2B
P: Rick Porcello
- Shin-Soo Choo, RF
- Jason Kipnis, 2B
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Carlos Santana, DH
- Michael Brantley, CF
- Russ Canzler, LF
- Casey Kotchman, 1B
- Jack Hannahan, 3B
- Lou Marson, C
P: Justin Masterson
Miguel Cabrera’s home run out of Fenway Park was the highlight for Tigers fans Wednesday night. Aaron Cook’s pickoff throw off Prince Fielder’s helmet as he was sliding back into second base was the horror picture.
It didn’t knock him out, and it didn’t knock him out of the game, but he said it left his ear ringing for a minute.
“I got a little rattled, a little headache,” Fielder said. “It stung me a little bit.”
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand came running out of the dugout, and was immediately thankful to learn that the ball hit the helmet, not the side of his head. He started asking him questions and gave a concussion test, which continued as the game went on, but knew pretty quickly that he was fine.
“He was joking with me as I was asking questions,” Rand said. “He was OK.”
Said Fielder: “Right away, I knew. I just had to gather, that’s all.”
The Tigers had plenty of plays that kept them in the game Thursday, from Justin Verlander’s strikeouts to Alex Avila’s double to Austin Jackson’s walkoff hit. Two plays that might have gotten overlooked were the scoops that Prince Fielder made at first on low throws from Jhonny Peralta.
Manager Jim Leyland wasn’t overlooking them.
“He picked them both clean and got outs on both of them. That was huge,” Leyland said. “That was absolutely huge for us. Raffy [Belliard] and him worked a lot in Spring Training on that and it paid off today. Those are huge plays.”
The first of them came in the second inning following David Ortiz’s leadoff double. Peralta went to the hole to pick up Kevin Youkilis’ grounder, looked to Ortiz at second and fired to first, but didn’t get enough on the ball, which skipped in the dirt in front of Fielder. He reached out and timed his swipe perfectly, getting the out and keeping Ortiz there.
The second play came leading off the sixth inning, very similar, to retire Mike Aviles. That became big in hindsight once Miguel Cabrera’s error and an Adrian Gonzalez walk put two runners on with two out for Ortiz, who struck out. If not for that out, Verlander could’ve had a bases-loaded, one-out jam for Ortiz and Youkilis.
“That’s to Prince’s credit and Raffy’s credit,” Leyland continued. “They worked on it, and it paid huge dividends today. Those were huge plays. … If either one of those get by, you’re in trouble. That was huge for us.”
Fielder said the work was the least he could do for Cabrera, who was willing to make the move from first to third to accommodate him.
“With Miguel doing all the hard work he was doing, I felt I owed it not only to the team but to him,” Fielder said, “because I couldn’t be here without him being willing to move to third base. I thought I owed it to him to work just as hard as he is at third, to work hard at first.”
Let’s be honest: It’s not as if the Tigers haven’t had a superstar before. They didn’t have one when Ivan Rodriguez signed in 2004, which made him the potential savior of a 119-loss team as soon as his car pulled into the parking lot at Tigertown that February. Miguel Cabrera was a superstar on the field when the Tigers got him about four years later.
Justin Verlander has pitched his way into superstar status, complete with his image on the cover of a video game and a cereal box, and his face on Conan. In many ways, he’s the face of the franchise, and baseball’s headline attraction each time he takes the mound.
Still, there’s something about Prince Fielder. And his arrival at camp Monday drew a reception that hasn’t been seen here in a while, whether from television cameras, microphones, fans or even teammates. Maybe it’s the fact that he grew up a Tiger. Maybe it goes back to the draw of a big home-run hitter. Or maybe it’s the fact that one of the best free agents on the market actually chose Detroit. Or it might even be the fact that a Tiger has the third-largest contract in baseball, . Whatever the reasons, Fielder’s arrival Monday had the attention of an event.
Fans, who had been asking when he was expected to show for a couple days, lined up against the fence separating the practice complex from the clubhouse for a chance at his autograph. Photographers followed his every move around the fields, then his interaction with fans. His warmup throws with new teammate Miguel Cabrera became a sight.
Teammates weren’t immune to it, either.
“When star players show up, people take notice,” manager Jim Leyland said. “They might say they don’t, but they do, particularly the young guys. I don’t mean they’re in awe or anything, but heck, that’s pretty nice. Heck, that’s a thrill.”
Then he took batting practice with Cabrera — back-to-back, like they’re expected to bat in the order when the games start.
“It was fun,” said Brennan Boesch, who shagged fly balls (or watched home runs) while they hit. “I mean, they’re in my opinion the best left- and right-handed hitters — especially with power — in the game. They’re great hitters, too. They’re not just sluggers. Obviously, everyone knows what they can do — Prince from the left side, Miguel from the right. So it’s a deadly combination to have, and you’re glad to have them on our side.”
The chemistry seemed to be immediate, Cabrera watching Fielder’s homers in awe, and Fielder joking about how hard Cabrera hits the ball.
“Double,” Cabrera said about one of his own drives to the gap.
“What???” Fielder exclaimed, looking out beyond the fence. “You hit that alligator.”
There was no alligator out there; Lake Parker, where many a gator call home, is beyond even these sluggers’ reach. But you get the point: They enjoyed hitting with each other, and they admire talent.
And a lot of fans admire what Fielder can do, which is why he had the crowd he had. Whether Fielder relishes that kind of response or not — he said he got used to people asking for autographs when he was a kid — he’s getting that reception.
(Page down after photo for more camp notes)
Speaking of rock stars: Look for a bigger story Tuesday, but Justin Verlander talked with reporters Monday morning about his upcoming season and how he worked this offseason. He said he turned down some off-field opportunities this winter because they would have interfered with his training routine.
“What I tried to do,” he said, “was choose the things that would be fun and brought the most attention to the Tigers, myself, the organization, the city. Those are basically the things that I kept in mind. And obviously, doing the Conan show was huge, being on the cover of the game, going out and shooting the commercial. And I’m doing a couple other cities that are in the works but haven’t come out yet.”
The Conan appearance, he said, was “awesome. That was a lot of fun. I was a little nervous going into it, didn’t know how I’d feel. Then I sit down in the chair and just start talking and I felt very at ease and just had fun with it.”
That, he said, was his favorite thing of the offseason.
“That, and shooting a commercial with Kate Upton isn’t too bad,” he said with a smile.
Monday, by the way, was Verlander’s 29th birthday. He got a watch.
Actual workout item of the day: Watch these drills for enough years, and it sometimes looks like a ritual rather than an actual exercise. But manager Jim Leyland takes these things seriously, and he lets players know if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing. He met with one group of pitchers during pickoff drills and hammered home the point that they need to make their pickoff move look as much like a normal delivery as possible until they’re whirling and firing. Of course, Leyland has been hammering home the need for Tigers pitchers not named Verlander to hold runners better for a few years now.
The Tigers don’t have all-day workouts, but when they’re working, Leyland wants them to be productive. He didn’t use his most common phrase today — Work Hard, but Work Smart — but he related it to game situations.
“I think it makes you better in close games during the season if you have more discipline,” Leyland said. “I truly believe that. I believe disciplined teams perform better from the seventh inning on.”
Actual workout item runner-up: Nobody, and I mean nobody, has more fun in spring training workouts than Jose Valverde. I said it last year, and the year before, and it still holds.
Valverde was yelling and cheering during random parts of pitchers fielding practice Monday morning. He covered first base with a flair every once in a while, drawing a cheer from the fans in attendance. He slammed his glove to the ground in mock disgust when Phil Coke missed a throw to first. He doesn’t blow these drills off, mind you, but he has fun doing that.
The better sign of who takes these early workouts seriously will come when Jim Leyland starts trying to hit fungoes past pitchers during infield work.
Non-workout item of the day: Remember when Gerald Laird joked a few days ago that he would be picking up whatever loose change fell out of Prince Fielder’s locker next to him, because “he’s making $213 million more than I am.”
Fielder saw it, and joked upon his arrival Monday that he would be watching his money.
“Yeah, I heard about that,” Fielder said. “I’m going to make sure I keep all my change in my pocket.”
Quote of the day: “Beck, you missed my bullpen.” — Don Kelly on his way in from batting practice. He did not actually throw a bullpen session.
Victor Martinez has more damage to his left knee than previously thought, and will end up having two surgeries to repair the damage from his workout accident. But the added procedure shouldn’t affect his timetable for returning next season.
After getting a second opinion from noted specialist Dr. Richard Steadman, Martinez underwent microfracture surgery and meniscus repairs last Friday, and is still awaiting reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. He’s still expected to miss the upcoming season, but he should be ready for Spring Training next year.
It’s worse than the original diagnosis, but it’s not really a surprise. According to multiple sources, it’s also not as bad as it sounds. Essentially, the surgeries will get everything repaired around the same time.
Martinez blew out his left ACL little more than two weeks ago, when his right foot slipped during an agility drill. According to Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, the impact of the fall also caused damage to his medial and lateral meniscus. He also suffered a chondral defect, which Rand compared to a divot on the end of one of the bones in the joint.
“When he tore his ACL, he had some collateral damage,” Rand said.
That isn’t unusual. Will Carroll, who writes about sports injuries for SI.com, said it’s very rare for ACL injuries to not include other damage. He compared the microfracture surgery to fixing the shocks on a car ahead of the other work.
Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of sports medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, agreed.
“When you tear your ACL, it’s not uncommon to also tear some meniscus,” Dr. Khabie said in a phone conversation. “What’s a little unusual is the microfracture. That’s not totally unusual. That just signifies a more severe injury than meets the eye. …
“A lot of athletes will get microfractures along with the ACLs. It just doesn’t get the attention.”
If the divot analogy sounds familiar, it’s the same type of injury that former Tiger Carlos Guillen suffered when Brett Gardner slid into his knee in August 2010. That, too, required microfracture surgery, albeit from a different surgeon. The relatively new procedure promotes healing by creating small fractures around the injury, promoting the creation of cartilage to cushion the bone.
Dr. Steadman, an innovator in the procedure, operated on Martinez last Friday at his clinic in Vail, Colo. Once Martinez recovers enough from that surgery, a process that’s expected to take six to eight weeks, he’ll have his ACL rebuilt. By having the microfracture surgery now and waiting on the next surgery, his rehab from the ACL procedure should be easier than if he had both surgeries at the same time.
“Dr. Steadman said you have much better outcomes if you repair the collateral damage first,” Rand said.
Dr. Steadman performed microfracture surgeries in 2010 on Tigers outfielder Clete Thomas and Indians All-Star Grady Sizemore. Thomas came back from midseason surgery to full workouts last Spring Training, while Sizemore’s recovery took about 10 months.
It’s a little less predictable than ACL repairs, but it’s becoming more common.
“In terms of science, it’s a good operation,” Dr. Khabie said. “It’s actually withstood the test of time. It’s one of the first things you think of when you hear about cartilage damage.”
The Tigers were already expecting Martinez to miss the upcoming season, so this doesn’t change anything in their plans. Detroit replaced one star hitter with a bigger one last week by signing All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract.
Any thought about Martinez catching again, however, is almost surely gone, though it might be physically possible for him to do it. Tigers officials were already planning on Martinez — who turned 33 last month — being a designated hitter for the rest of his contract, which runs through 2014. Detroit signed former Tiger Gerald Laird in November to take over backup catching duties behind All-Star Alex Avila, with whom Laird shared catching duties in 2009 and ’10.
Those plans came together soon after Martinez sprained his knee on a slide at home plate last August at Kansas City. Rand said an MRI exam taken near season’s end showed no structural damage from that injury, so the Tigers don’t believe that injury caused any damage revealed now. When Martinez’s right foot slipped during an agility drill two weeks ago, Rand said, his weight all fell on his left leg before he could brace himself.
“It seems that when these things happen, a lot of times they happen not during play, but during workouts,” Dr. Khabie said. “With these big guys, when their knees go, they just go.”
Prince Fielder is officially back in town. The Tigers officially announced the nine-year contract Thursday morning and scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. at Comerica Park, where Fielder will be introduced and don the Old English D for the first time since he was better known as Cecil Fielder’s son two decades ago.
“Prince Fielder is one of the premier offensive players in the game of baseball, and we are extremely excited to add an all-star caliber player like him to our lineup,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a press release. “The addition of Prince is a testament to the organization’s continued commitment to fielding a championship club.”
Both Fielder and Dombrowski are expected to speak at the press conference, which should provide a little more insight about how the Tigers will fit Fielder and Cabrera into the lineup together. Fielder is expected to become Detroit’s primary first baseman this year, with Cabrera getting time at third base, designated hitter and third.
The press conference will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network.