Four games between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers became more than just an ordinary May series seven months ago, when the two sides swapped All-Stars in an attempt to alter their offenses.
Thursday, in particular, was supposed to be the biggie as the clubs matched up for the time since the November trade of Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder. It was supposed to give the Rangers and Tigers a chance to be reminded of what the other was missing.
Both, it turns out, are missing Fielder, who was at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas visiting spine specialist Dr. Drew Dossett rather than at Comerica Park, where fans who had targeted him for their postseason failures a year ago had to find someone else to pick on.
Fielder won’t be joining the Rangers this weekend, or again this season, after he has surgery Tuesday to fix a herniated disc in his neck.
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That stole the headlines after the Rangers’ 9-2 victory Thursday. Kinsler, who was outspoken in an article released during spring training, didn’t create any headlines during an 11-minute session with the media.
He didn’t bite on the fact that the Rangers are trailing significantly in the Kinsler-Fielder swap, though it’s unfair to judge the trade as a failure after only six weeks.
Kinsler entered Thursday batting .317 with four homers, 20 RBIs, 31 runs and six steals, and was the American League leader in multi-hit game, with 19. Fielder, who hasn’t played since Friday, was hitting .247 with three homers and 16 RBIs.
Fielder has six years remaining on his contract after this season. Kinsler has three, plus a 2018 club option.
“People are going to write about the trade,” said Kinsler, who spoke to the media before the game. “People are going to write about me and Prince, what’s happening with us throughout the whole year and probably throughout the rest of our careers as long as we’re with the Rangers and the Tigers.”
Kinsler clarified some of his remarks about leadership in a February story in ESPN the Magazine. He said that wanted to be a leader last season with the Rangers and that he attempted to relay to young players how they should play and behave.
At the same time, though, he said that he wasn’t any good at being a mentor and preferred to devote his time to preparing himself for games.
“I want to be on the field and compete and talk about the game, help my teammates in that way,” he said. “I’d love to talk about baseball and what I see on the field and things you can take advantage of. As far as the other stuff, in my opinion it’s for the birds and not something I enjoy doing.
“It’s not that I wasn’t comfortable with it. It just subtracted away from the game and my preparation. It’s part of the clubhouse and the chemistry, and that was our team at the time and that’s what needed to be done. I tried to do it as best I could.”
In that story, he was quoted as saying that Rangers general manager is a “scumbag” and he hoped that the Rangers went winless this season. He wasn’t asked about his relationship with Daniels and said that the 0-162 wish was meant as a joke.
Kinsler, though, said that hates to see so many of his former teammates injured but also isn’t worrying much about it. His focus is on a Tigers team that had lost three straight games but had the second-best record in baseball and was leading the AL Central by five games.
“You never want to see guys get hurt,” Kinsler said. “I’ve been hurt, and I know what it means to go through something like that and try to get back. But it’s not my concern right now. I hope those guys get healthy as soon as possible, but I’m worried about my team.”