Mar 31, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder (84) at bat during an opening day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Count me as one of those that was incredibly excited to see big No. 84 step to the plate in his new blue and white uniform when baseball season commenced.
Count me as one of those that were sad to see No. 5 go, regardless of what he said afterward, because the rewards No. 84 could offer the Texas Rangers far outweigh those that No. 5 could offer.
And yes, count me now as one of those waiting for No. 84 to do something.
At the end of tonight’s disappointing 4-2 loss in Boston, Prince Fielder is hitting a meager .162 with just two doubles and three RBIs.
That’s not going to cut it, obviously, especially since the Rangers will be paying him 24 million big ones this year … and that’s just one year of the seven left on the nine-year, $214 million deal he signed two years ago with the Detroit Tigers.
I’ve used this word a whole, whole lot when it comes to discussing the Texas Rangers of 2014: Panic.
There are reasons to and not to, and one of the biggest reasons not to is we are just nine games into a 162-game marathon.
No, it is not time to panic about the money and years still owed to Fielder and it’s not time to panic about his wretched slump. It is just way, way too early to start doing that.
Baseball is the one sport where you will see players – yes, even the best of the best ones – have huge climaxes and pitfalls throughout the season. Some players start off hot, some don’t.
Prince Fielder is just one of those players that isn’t off to a hot start … at all … right now.
Some guys are notorious for starting off the season slow, and some of those don’t just start off slow for the first week or so, but for the entire month.
Fielder is going to get hot.
Trust me, it’s going to happen and when it does, it’s going to be a beautiful thing.
But right now, he doesn’t look right. He doesn’t look comfortable standing at the plate, and that’s simply a sign of a guy struggling to find the zone in the batter’s box.
Fielder also hasn’t had the patient, selective approach he is widely touted as possessing. He has gone out of the zone a whole, whole lot so far and the results have been weak ground balls and pop-ups.
Yes, he had a good night at the plate last night, but who didn’t? You don’t want to see one of your best hitters rake when everyone else in the lineup is raking.
You want to see him stand out and make a hit — or two — in a game like today’s game, when the pitching has the team handcuffed most of the day. That’s when you want him to stand out and make a difference.
But Fielder has not looked like that at all. He has looked just like everyone else when the pitching is tough, or when it’s batting practice time against guys like Felix Doubront.
As you may have heard Tom Grieve mention on the broadcast the other night, Fielder is most dangerous when he is hitting the ball up the middle with authority.
When you see him start doing that, look out. Big things will be coming for the big guy.
The spotlight is most definitely on him right now as we await word on the extent of Adrian Beltre’s quad injury.
If Beltre was to miss any time at all, and if the Rangers want to somehow stay afloat after the first month, Fielder is going to have to get it figured out in a hurry.
The Rangers can’t afford to give him a month to get things figured out and that might not be fair, even for a guy making as much money and who is as talented as Fielder.
No one is going to give him any excuses and no one is going to allow him to make any.
It’s time for Fielder to zero in and help this team out.
The rest of the guys expected to keep having to limp off the field.