Six weeks removed from surgery to fuse cervical disks, Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder doesn’t have too many creative ways to kill time in the summer.
The rehab he is doing is focusing on his neck, hip and shoulder, he said, but he doesn’t have a schedule on when he can begin baseball activities.
“I’m motivated, but I just want to heal first,” said Fielder, who spoke with the media for the first time since his surgery on May 27. “I’m not trying to push anything. That’s what got me into this situation now, so I’m going to be a little smarter.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he doesn’t look at losing Fielder for the rest of the season as being cheated.
“You can’t really sit around thinking about what could’ve been, because you’ve got so many things you have to try to straighten out right now,” Washington said. “We do feel that he’ll get a full recovery, and if that’s the end of this year, going into spring training next year it’ll be full. Hopefully, he can stay healthy for us and continue to produce as he has in the past.”
Between rehab and his family, Fielder is trying to make the best of his time off the field.
“I can’t play so there’s no reason to walk around pouting about it,” Fielder said. “Enjoy more time with my family and just, I think I’m appreciating the game more as far as it just being fun, you know, not really worrying about results anymore.”
Fielder said it is the first time since he was a young boy that his summer wasn’t spent playing baseball. He’s been able to spend more time with his family, which is a plus, he said. He’s also featured in the buff in ESPN The Magazine’s The Body issue. He said he wanted to show people that you don’t have to be ripped to be a professional athlete.
“You don’t have to have a six-pack to play sports or be good or be an athlete, so I figured I’d give it a shot, see how it looked,” he said.
He’s not struggling to find things to fill his days, however.
“My kids do enough of that,” he said. “My wife sends me on errands here and there, so I’m doing a lot more stuff like that, but it’s fun. Like I said, I’m trying to make the best of it.”
Said Washington: “He’s very happy to have all that pain out of himself. He’s looking forward to the time he can get back on the field and help us.”
West called up
The Rangers optioned right-handed pitcher Phil Irwin to Triple A Round Rock and recalled right-hander Matt West, who joined the Rangers’ beleaguered bullpen Thursday night.
The bullpen has allowed multiple runs in seven of the past eight games and as a unit has a 6.18 ERA over that span. Jason Frasor gave up two runs Wednesday.
The Rangers have used 29 pitchers, including Mitch Moreland and Chris Gimenez, the most in the majors this season. The bullpen ranks fourth in the AL with 290 1/3 innings pitched this season entering Thursday.
West, who pitched two hitless innings in relief Thursday in his major league debut, was drafted out of Houston’s Bellaire High School in 2007 as an outfielder before converting to a pitcher in 2011. The 25-year-old was a combined 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 27 relief appearances with Double A Frisco and at Round Rock.
West, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, had never played above Class A before this season.
“He’s throwing the ball well,” Washington said. “I think we always had aspirations for him and now he gets his chance at the big leagues.”
Yu not an option
The Rangers’ starting pitcher for Sunday has not been announced, but it won’t be Yu Darvish on three days’ rest, Washington said. Irwin pitched Tuesday in place of Nick Martinez, who is on the disabled list with discomfort in his rib cage.
“It’s not going to be Darvish,” Washington said. “It might be someone we bring up; it might be somebody already here.”
Robbie Ross’ problems have continued in Triple A Round Rock.
In a start Wednesday, Ross took the loss against Colorado Springs, giving up nine runs on eight hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings. In three starts, he is 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA. He’s 1-0 with an 11.57 ERA in one relief appearance.
“He just hasn’t straightened things out yet,” Washington said. “He’ll stay down there until he gets it straightened out.”
Geovany Soto has been transferred to Frisco to continue his injury rehabilitation assignment. Soto, on the disabled list all season after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, began the assignment July 4 at Triple A Round Rock.