Donning No. 84, Prince unveiled by Texas
Slugger eager for fresh start as Rangers eye World Series championship
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers unveiled their latest new jerseys on Monday afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The first one presented to a player was a home white jersey that was size 56 with the No. 84 on the back. Prince Fielder is officially with the Rangers and his jersey is now on sale at the Ballpark in Arlington. Fielder, who is going to be the first Rangers player to wear No. 84 outside of Spring Training, was asked about the odd number at his introductory news conference at the Ballpark on Monday afternoon.
"Fresh start," Fielder said. "That's the year I was born. That's as deep as I'm going to go into that."
Fielder wore a gray three-piece suit to the news conference on a gray Texas afternoon with winter weather more suited to his former homes in Milwaukee and Detroit. He was accompanied by his wife, Chanel, and his two sons, Haven and Jaden, and his hair has been cut short since he was last seen playing for the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.
Rangers manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels joined him on the podium five days after Fielder agreed to a trade brought him to the Rangers from Detroit in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Fielder had a chance to turn the trade down. The Rangers were on his no-trade list, but he waived that right and let the trade go through.
"I thought it would be best for both teams and for me," Fielder said. "I'm a team guy, so I said, 'OK.'"
Left-handed-hitting Fielder, who has 285 home runs and 870 RBIs over eight-plus seasons in the Majors, wasn't acquired because the Rangers think he can help them win another 90 games. He is here to help the Rangers win a World Series.
"We're looking for to a lot of good times and a lot of W's," Daniels said.
Fielder said he is "good" with the idea of a World Series championship being the ultimate measure of success.
"That's definitely the main goal," Fielder said. "I'm glad we're all on the same page."
Fielder, 29, also agreed that this trade only works for the Rangers if he stays productive through the entire length of his contract. He is still has seven years and $168 million left although the Tigers are sending the Rangers $30 million spread over the last five years of the contract to help balance the financial component.
"I'll just take it year by year," Fielder said. "It's definitely not going to be a challenge. I love this game. Why would I do anything that would cause me not to play it the way I should?"
So far Fielder has had no trouble staying healthy through a Major League career that includes six full seasons with the Brewers and two with the Tigers. He has played in at least 157 games over eight seasons and 162 in each of the last three. He has played in 505 consecutive games going back to Sept. 13, 2010, with the Brewers, the longest current streak in the Major Leagues.
In relating why he likes to play every day, Fielder told a story when he was 11 years old and growing up as the son of former Major League slugger Cecil Fielder.
"I fouled a ball of my shin," Prince said. "My dad said, 'You're not hurt,' and he walked away. He didn't talk to me for a day or two. I guess that meant, 'You should play,' so I've always wanted to play no matter what."
He played in 162 games for the Tigers in 2013, hitting .279 with 25 home runs, 106 RBIs and a .457 slugging percentage. The home runs and the slugging percentage were his lowest in eight full seasons. His struggles were much worse in the playoffs as he was 9-for-40 (.225) with no home runs or RBIs. Tigers fans were not happy with his performance, which may be why Fielder thinks coming to Texas and wearing No. 84 will mean a fresh start for him.
"No. 1, it's here, so you might as well accept it," Fielder said. "Plus, last year, it was last year. Everybody was on me because of the way I played, and rightfully so. I stunk. Hopefully we can make better memories this season."
Fielder was also criticized for not showing more passion or outward frustration, especially during the playoffs.
"It was unfair," Fielder said. "If I had thrown a helmet, I would be called a crybaby."
Daniels chuckled at the idea that Fielder "stunk" last year.
"That was a pretty good year for stinking," Daniels said.
"If you play this game long enough, there might be a year where you might not drive in 128 runs," Washington said. "It might be 110. I'll take that. You might not hit 40 home runs. It might be 25 or 28. I'll take that.
"I don't think [Daniels] could have given us a better early Christmas present. I don't expect Prince to put us on his back. He just needs to do what he has done his entire career. He'll make everybody else in the lineup better. I've always enjoyed watching him play from afar. Now I'm glad to have him on this team."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.