Jeff Banister tries to digest Rangers' extra-innings loss Monday
As birthdays go, turning 32 is just another day.
Prince Fielder learned that Monday, celebrating the big 3-2 at Globe Life Park with a game against the Chicago White Sox. Well before first pitch, Fielder did his normal pregame workout and turned in more work on his ailing swing.
Fielder, though, is used to working on his birthday. He entered the series opener 10 for 33 with a homer, three RBIs and six runs on previous birthdays.
That average was 116 points better than his average through 32 games this season for the Texas Rangers, who are paying the All-Star slugger to be an All-Star slugger and need more from him.
Before Game 33, Banister gave Fielder, the struggling designated hitter, the gift of a vote of confidence. In short, the veteran slugger is going to keep playing and is going to figure things out.
“Prince is going to be a force in the middle of our lineup,” Banister said. “I believe in Prince. I think Prince has earned an opportunity for us to have some patience there.”
.194 Prince Fielder’s batting average entering Monday
They didn’t get it in the opener against the White Sox, who got a grand slam, a solo homer and a career-high six RBIs from their struggling All-Star, Todd Frazier, and overcame the Rangers tying the game in the eighth and ninth innings for an 8-4 victory in 12 innings.
The game saw Banister ejected in the ninth for arguing what he thought was a missed third strike in the ninth that helped lead to the White Sox breaking a 3-3 tie. But Hanser Alberto, in the game because Adrian Beltre was lifted for a pinch runner, tied things in the bottom half with an RBI single to left.
The loss spoiled a nice start by Colby Lewis and another homer by Rougned Odor, who has a team-high seven this season. The loss snapped the Rangers’ three-game winning streak and was their fourth in four games this season against the White Sox.
Fielder doesn’t need anyone to tell him he’s struggling, nor is he particularly interested in answering questions about his woes. Who would be?
He went 0 for 13 in the Rangers’ three-game weekend sweep at Detroit and was batting .175 (10 for 57) in his previous 15 games. He had been stuck on two homers since April 19 and had only a .516 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Prince is going to be a force in the middle of our lineup. I believe in Prince. I think Prince has earned an opportunity for us to have some patience there.
Rangers manager Jeff Banister
His single in the sixth snapped an 0-for-16 skid and he walked with one out in the 10th, but neither did anything to stop his search for an answer for his woes.
“If I knew, I’d be out of it,” Fielder said. “Just keep swinging. That’s all I can do.”
Banister suggested that Fielder would benefit from swinging at pitches in the strike zone and pitches in his hot zones. Opposing pitchers have been getting him to chase while not making any mistakes.
To Banister’s point, Nate Jones didn’t throw Fielder a strike in the eighth inning in the first five pitches, yet still got two swings and misses. Fielder grounded out on a full-count pitch that was in the zone, but it was a quality strike.
Hitting coach Anthony Iapoce said that he and assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel with Fielder. Their work has focused on being more direct to the ball and having faith in the work they are doing.
“The results are not there right now,” Iapoce said. “But as a player you have to trust the process and stick with the process.”
The work needs to be rewarded.
“Work means nothing, though,” Fielder said. “Work’s just the feel-good.”
But the Rangers believe results are coming.
“If not, I’ll be closer the next day,” Fielder said.
Rangers vs. White Sox
7:05 p.m. Tuesday
Radio: KRLD/105.3 FM, ESPN/1540 AM
Rangers LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon (1-4, 4.36)