ARLINGTON, Texas — Prince Fielder wasn’t in uniform for the Texas Rangers Thursday but at least he was back in the clubhouse.
Fielder, who had surgery May 27 to repair a herniated disc in his neck, spoke with the Metroplex media for the first time since his surgery.
Being in a clubhouse and not being in uniform was strange for one of baseball’s iron men as Fielder hadn’t been on the disabled list before the neck injury.
"It’s been hard but I’m trying to deal with it the best way I can," said Fielder, who had played in 547-conecutive games before the injury. "I’m coming here every day, hanging out with the guys so that helps a little bit, but yeah, trying to make the best of it, I guess. "
Like everyone else, Fielder has had to watch as the club has struggled this season. The Rangers are 15-29 since they lost Fielder, who was having an off season by his standards but still provided a much-needed threat in the lineup.
Now he’s relegated to being a spectator and taking all the necessary steps in his rehab process. He hasn’t done any baseball activities, instead mainly focusing on core work but nothing with too much intensity.
"I’m motivated but I just want to heal first," he said. "I’m not trying to push anything. That’s what got me in this situation now, so I’m trying to be a little smarter. Obviously I’m working hard but I’m just letting myself heal."
Fielder said he has no idea when he first started feeling pain but it got to the point before the surgery where it was impacting his everyday activities. While he hasn’t resumed any baseball activities, he doesn’t have the everyday pain he had before the injury.
Fielder, who the Rangers have under contract through the 2020 season, was hitting just .247 with three home runs and 16 RBI in 42 games before he was shelved.
He’s hoping that his diminished numbers had everything to do with his injury.
"I don’t think it helped, how about that?" he said. "It definitely doesn’t help trying to hit with a herniated disc."
While there’s an outside chance Fielder could return late this season to try and get back into the swing, he doesn’t want to push it. His focus now seems squarely on 2015.
"Right now, not really worried about the baseball part," he said. "Worried about just actually letting it fuse and letting it heal. Baseball stuff, that’ll be there, obviously. But I just want to heal first before I do anything. Once I get cleared to do something, I don’t know how to do under 100 percent."
The Rangers are willing to wait too.
"I’d like to what a healthy Prince is," manager Ron Washington said. "What happened to him he couldn’t prevent it. You can’t sit around and think about what could have been because you’ve got so many things to have to try and straighten out right now. We do feel that he’ll get a full recovery. Hopefully he can stay healthy for us and continue to produce as he has in the past."
Fielder took it in stride and was happy to pose for the magazine in April.
"Everything’s been good so far I guess," he said of the response. "Yeah, just happy I did it, it was pretty cool. You don’t have to have a six pack to play sports or to be an athlete, so I figured I’d give it a shot, see how it looks"