ARLINGTON, Texas — An emotional Prince Fielder, with his young sons at his side, announced Wednesday afternoon that he can no longer physically play baseball.
Fielder, a designated hitter for the Texas Rangers, is still recovering from his second spinal fusion surgery in the past three years.
“The doctors told me since I had two spinal fusions, I can’t play Major League Baseball anymore,” Fielder said, his voice halting.
“So I want to just thank my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m going to to really miss those guys. They’re a lot a fun. I’ve been in a big league clubhouse since I was their age,” he said, motioning toward his sons. “To not be able to play is going to be tough.”
Fielder, who is still wearing a large neck brace, had missed one game in the previous five seasons before he was traded to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler before the 2014 season.
He played 42 games in 2014 before having his first surgery. He played 158 games last season, hitting .305 with 23 homers and 98 RBIs, helping the Rangers win the AL West.
Fielder was hitting .212 with eight homers and 44 RBIs this season. In three seasons with Texas, Fielder hit .269 with 34 homers and 158 RBIs in only 289 games.
“I really wish our fans had been able to see Prince at his best,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “For about 10 years, he was one of the elite power hitters and baseball players in the game.”
Fielder still has four years and $96 million remaining on the nine-year, $214-million deal he signed with Detroit in 2012.
The Rangers have an insurance policy that’s expected to pay half of the remaining $72 million they owe Fielder. The Detroit Tigers are responsible for the other $24 million.
Fielder was still hitting below .200 in June. He became concerned after an 0-for-4 performance against the Los Angeles Angels.
“Finally, in Anaheim he got a few pitches to hit, and he couldn’t deliver,” said Scott Boras, Fielder’s agent. “He said something’s going on. We expected some DL time, but not this.”