Offense takes lead from Prince Fielder
April, 15, 2014
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Prince Fielder didn't say, "I told you," but he could have after the Texas Rangers' 5-0 win on Tuesday.
Fielder, swarmed by reporters asking about his struggling start before the game, said he was going to hit a home run soon. Even he didn't realize how soon.
In his first at-bat, leading off the second inning, Fielder blasted a Blake Beavan two-seam fastball into the seats in right-center 446 feet away.
So was Fielder a prophet?
AP Photo/LM Otero
"I was just messing around, but I guess it worked," Prince Fielder said after predicting he would hit a home run soon, then producing his first dinger of the season Tuesday.
"No," Fielder said. "I was just messing around, but I guess it worked."
Fielder said he isn't feeling any pressure, and he certainly doesn't appear outwardly bothered by his slow start. He even scoffed at the idea he was "relieved" to get his first home run behind him.
"We have to come out tomorrow [Wednesday] and try to win again, so there's no relief until the season is over and you see where we're at," Fielder said. "Every day you've got to try to come out and help your team win, regardless of what you did the day before."
The Rangers traded for Fielder with the idea he could be a big-time, run-producing, middle-of-the-lineup bat and enable the team to score more runs and score them more consistently -- and earlier -- in games.
When Adrian Beltre is in the lineup, it takes some of the pressure off Fielder, in that he's got another big bat protecting him. But with Beltre on the bench nursing a strained quad muscle and the offense having difficulty scoring runs as a whole, Fielder becomes even more important.
There was a visible lift in the stadium when Fielder swatted that fastball out in the second inning. It was a different feeling than when other players hit home runs. That's because Fielder is supposed to be the guy who crushes baseballs and generates offense with one swing. It took 14 games, but he finally did that Tuesday.
The rest of the offense took Fielder's lead.
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a home run right after Fielder, then delivered a big two-out, two-RBI double to extend the lead. Fielder was the spark and those around him, including No. 6 hitter Mitch Moreland, followed his example and delivered themselves.
That's what this offense needs from its big, left-handed slugger.