The question was benign and quite simple and yet Jon Daniels paused because he was apparently offended by it. Is Prince Fielder too big and does he need to lose weight to prolong his career?
On the day the Rangers announced that Prince was lost for the season because he will likely need another surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck - the second time in the last three years - I asked the Rangers general manager that very question.
JD said he didn’t know how to answer that and found it a little offensive that I asked.
So did long time Rangers beat writer Evan Grant from The Dallas Morning News who Tweeted, “Prince Fielder is a large man & always has been. Body type. Not a weight issue. To suggest it is is offensive.”
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That’s good stuff.
Prince is listed, according to TexasRangers.com, as 5-foot-11, 275 pounds.
The concerns about Prince’s weight have been there since he arrived to the majors in 2005. He’s a big boned, big man. That’s not a criticism but a statement of fact.
It was not an issue early in his career when he routinely played 162 games a season, but the fear has been for years his size will accelerate aging. Perhaps that is a reason why the Detroit Tigers wanted to trade him.
There is a fear that the latest injury could end Prince’s career, but it is too early to know how he will be this time coming out of surgery.
I asked JD if there was any correlation between this injury and Prince simply being a bigger man.
“You’ll have to ask a spinal surgeon that,” JD said.
So I did. I asked two spinal surgeons – one from Fort Worth and another who works as the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, the same question I posed to JD.
While there is no real consensus on whether excess weight could be a factor in Prince’s injuries, the agreement is that more weight never helps.
His power and strength made him great early but come at a cost after he turned 30. The more we carry on our frames, the harder it is especially as we grow older. Join the club.
The doctor in Philly said that weight sometimes is an issue in these cases, but not necessarily. What he did tell me stunned me: Prince Fielder, technically, depending on his Body Mass Index, could qualify as obese. I don’t think of All-Star athletes as obese, but ... it can happen.
The local doctor told me this: “No consensus on weight and recurrent C-spine pathology among (other specialists I asked). Safe to say other factors more important. Also safe to say his weight will hamper his ability to compete in the back end of his contract. The first thing I would watch is his ability to get back in shape after his down time following this surgery.”
He also said his medical practicing partner who performs cervical spine surgery told him that “he is doubtful Prince will ever return. He is like the rest of us as to whether the weight caused the injury - maybe, but more likely aggravated other causes.”
With the exception of being an exceptional hitter, Prince is no different than the rest of us - getting older sucks.