Prince Fielder may not be lighter, but he’s ready to be Rangers’ No. 3 hitter

Posted Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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The Fielder household does not welcome scales. It does welcome haircuts.

As Prince Fielder said, once he chopped off his dreadlocks, it gave at least the illusion that he had lost weight. He doesn’t know for sure, though, because he hasn’t stepped on a scale.

“Lost a couple of pounds cutting the hair,” Fielder said, grinning.

Fielder reported to Texas Rangers camp on Wednesday in good spirits and looking forward to starting another chapter in his career. He didn’t care to reflect on his struggles last season with Detroit but is optimistic about playing with the Rangers and in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park.

Much is expected of Fielder after the Rangers’ blockbuster trade early in the off-season sent fan favorite Ian Kinsler to Detroit. Manager Ron Washington already has a set lineup with Fielder as the No. 3 batter.

Shin-Soo Choo will lead off followed by Elvis Andrus, Fielder and Adrian Beltre. Alex Rios is slated to bat fifth. Washington said those first five batters are “set in stone.”

Barring injuries, Washington said, Mitch Moreland would bat sixth, followed by Geovany Soto, Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin.

Washington downplayed the notion of altering his lineup simply to affect how opposing teams approach the middle of the order. He isn’t overly concerned about Fielder facing a left-hander or Beltre and Rios seeing a right-hander.

“These guys are pros,” Washington said. “They’ve faced all different kinds of pitchers at different times throughout their career. They are established hitters.

“Either they go after Prince, or they pitch around Prince and have to deal with Beltre. People can pick their poison.”

Fielder has no issues with the proposed lineup. In fact, he likes the notion of being the “protectee” instead of the “protector.”

Fielder has been a cleanup batter the majority of his career. He played in only four games as the No. 3 batter last season, his first action in that spot since 2010.

“Hitting in front of Beltre — that’s not a bad thing,” Fielder said. “That’s fine with me. I don’t have any problems with it.

“I’m excited. The top two guys [Choo and Andrus] have speed, and they can hit as well. I think it’s going to set the table for the rest of us, which is going to be a lot of fun.”

Andrus is just as excited to bat in front of Fielder. He compared Fielder’s presence with Josh Hamilton’s in the lineup.

For Fielder, though, Day One marked the beginning of a fresh start. His time with the Tigers did not end well. Even though he had 25 home runs and 106 RBIs, he didn’t play up to the level many expected.

Fielder’s brief, two-year stint in Detroit ended with a forgettable playoffs. He had no RBIs or home runs in the ALDS and ALCS combined and batted .182 in the ALCS.

“It’s over,” Fielder said. “There’s nothing you can do about it now.”

A subject Fielder didn’t mind discussing was his off-season workouts.

He went through MMA-type exercises to strengthen his core and improve his flexibility instead of the heavy lifting workouts he had done in the past. He also believes the MMA workouts will help him better handle the heat in Texas.

“I lift weights, but not so heavy,” Fielder said. “Not trying to be bulky, trying to lean it out and be more athletic. I just want to be athletic and not carry around so much weight.”

It’s unknown how much, if any, weight Fielder lost. What is known is that his off-season workouts do not signal a career in MMA after baseball.

“An elbow to the face, and I’d be done with that,” Fielder said, laughing.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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