When all else failed to get Prince Fielder back on track, the Texas Rangers finally benched their All-Star first baseman.
After exhausting every known option to get Prince Fielder back on track, Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister finally sat his All-Star first baseman for the last two games of the Rangers’ series with the Seattle Mariners.
According to an article by the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant on Saturday, Banister said, “Sometimes, you just get to a point where you’ve got to put the bat down and exhale. Prince is in a good place mentally. He’ll be back doing the same things he did for us last year. He’s going to be a force for us. He is a quality hitter. There are times when the game is a challenge.”
When second baseman Rougned Odor came back from his suspension, he got his spot in the lineup back. Red-hot Jurickson Profar became the designated hitter, and Mitch Moreland stayed on the bag at first.
Meanwhile, back at the corral, Fielder is hitting a minuscule .187. His homer at Cleveland on May 30 was his first since April 19, and he has just three round-trippers all year. While typical of sluggers, Fielder is striking out twice as often as he’s walking.
In another story posted Monday morning, Banister wouldn’t rule out Fielder returning to the lineup at first base in tonight’s series opener against the Houston Astros. It’s not like Moreland is knocking the cover off the ball, either.
As can be expected, Fielder isn’t happy about being benched. Between Milwaukee, Detroit and Texas, he’s played in at least 157 games in every full season he’s been healthy. He missed just one game between Opening Day in 2009 and his injury in May 2014.
More from Call to the Pen
- Philadelphia Phillies, ready for a stretch run, bomb St. Louis Cardinals
- Philadelphia Phillies: The 4 players on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore
- Boston Red Sox fans should be upset over Mookie Betts’ comment
- Analyzing the Boston Red Sox trade for Dave Henderson and Spike Owen
- 2023 MLB postseason likely to have a strange look without Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals
Still, he wasn’t airing his dirty laundry in the media.
“It’s [Banister’s] call and I respect that,” Fielder said. “I know I’m going out there and giving what I’ve got. Last year, guys struggled early and turned it around. But we’re winning. I’m not one to complain about it. But I want to make my movie turn out right.”
Banister was glad to hear Fielder was ticked off.
“I don’t expect him to agree with it and don’t want him to agree with it,” Banister said Sunday morning. “I don’t want any of them to agree with being unplugged. But I also don’t know if you keep spinning your wheels or try something different.
“I look at this as a 20-second timeout. He’s never been through this in his career; maybe you have to look at it through a different lens.
“I have to make challenging decisions and unpopular decisions. Having players understand them isn’t necessarily the focus of the conversation. It’s about: There is a need. Whatever he needs to do [to get himself right], he can go work on it right now without being judged for not being successful enough. This is a very accomplished hitter. I believe in him.”
For his part Fielder understands he’s not hitting especially well when ahead in the count, and needs to make adjustments in that area.
But it may be worth considering that in the infamous Texas summer heat and humidity, playing 157 or more games may not be the best idea for someone of his age and body build. The desire to play every day is admirable, and he gets around a lot better than most people his size.
But for the short-term health of the ball club and the long-term health of the 32-year-old, 275-pound player, taking a couple of days off ain’t all bad.